Monthly Archives: October 2013

Vindication: Brown Butter Blondies Revisited

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m a little bit dramatic. And also, I like to do things correctly. But also, I screw things up a lot because I’m a human being. And we just make mistakes, y’all.

So when I tried to make the brown butter blondies recipe a year ago and it went horribly awry, I wrote about it. And it was funny. And then I walked away from it for a really long time. Cause I was angry. And hurt.

I would overcome it. But I needed to heal.

Ok, I’m hyperboling here.

It is true—I needed to walk away from the recipe for a minute. But when I walked away, I forgot about said recipe. For a year. Cause that’s how my memory works.

But when I realized I had everything on hand to make these bad bitches, I’m so glad I did.

These. Were. Amazing.

And I’m not kidding. I got rave reviews. Rave. One friend said that they were ridiculous. (The good kind.) My friend Kate told me it was like making out with cookie dough. And I mean, I myself ate like 4-9 of them. So, that says something right there. Stop judging. They were small.

Anyways, blondies accomplished. I am vindicated from a year ago’s tragedy. Sadness replaced with glee! Shame replaced with pride! Sanity replaced with crazy!

….just make the damn blondies, y’all.

Brown. Butter. Blondies.

Brown. Butter. Blondies.

Brown Butter Blondies, recipe from The Red Spoon

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 21 tablespoons (2 sticks + 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 9 x 13-inch pan. Line with parchment, letting the edges overhang making a parchment sling. Butter parchment paper lining and set aside.

In a large bowl add flour, baking powder and salt and mix to combine.

In a small saute or sauce pan, over medium-low heat, cook the butter until light brown and gives off a nutty aroma, about 6 minutes.  Remove pan from the heat, and let cool.

In a second bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar and cooled butter.  Stir to combine with a wooden spoon.  Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and stir until smooth.  Add dry ingredients in 2 batches and stir until just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish.  Bake for about 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out either clean or with crumbs, but not batter.  If using parchment paper, gently lift blondies out of baking dish or pan and let cool on a wire rack.

(I gotta say, I’m not a fan of the parchment sling here. When you lift the blondies out, they crack pretty badly. Next time I make these, I think I’m going to just make them in the pan. There’s plenty of butter in the recipe.)

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Rah Rah, Ardmore RAH!: 10K, 5K or Fun Run for Hunger October 19

This past Saturday, I went to Whole Foods to pick up a piece of salmon and grab lunch. And I saw they had quince paste, which I’d never actually seen outside of Spain. So I bought two containers. And you REALLY can’t have quince paste without queso manchego. So I got some of that. And I needed to pick up some ice cream for my girl’s night I was having a few days later.

So 1 fish filet, 1 cheese wedge, 2 fruit pastes and 4 pints of ice cream later, I make it to the front of the store. Shockingly, I broke nothing. (But I did drop 2 pints of ice cream.)

As I was walking out, I ran into none other than a former work colleague SLASH friend, David Mullen. He was manning the grill out front to make burgers in support of the Ardmore RAH, or Run Against Hunger. 

After catching up for a bit, he told me about said Ardmore RAH. It’s a 10K (…that’s a lot for me…), 5k  (ok! better!) and one-mile fun run (aw, hell! I could do that! ….and then collapse and die!) through the beautiful historic neighborhood of Ardmore right here in Winston-Salem. 

I didn’t need a burger at the time. (I KNOW. I WAS SHOCKED TOO.) But I said “let me give you a donation.” So I gave him a $10.

And listen to this.

David said to me, “Thank you so much. That $10 goes to make 70 meals. They can turn $1 in 7 meals.”

And then, everything went black because my brain exploded and dripped out of my ears.

Did you hear that? That is some Dumbledore ish right there. I mean, that is truly magical. Because of their partnerships, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC can turn $1 in 7 meals. And in the past 6 years of doing the Ardmore RAH, more than $85,000 has been donated. Which means that almost 600,000 meals have been donated. Amazing!

If you’re in town on October 19th and have any inkling to run or walk, do this! 100% of the proceeds go straight to Second Harvest. Everything that you give goes to helping somebody. I mean, that’s kind of awesome.

So, sign up here. Run or walk around Ardmore. Help some people out.

Because not everyone is as fortunate as I am, to buy 4 pints of ice cream and 2 containers of quince paste.

What an idiot. 

Hermione always knows.

Hermione always knows.

 

 

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My One Year Blog-Aversary…was 3 days ago

There are a lot of things I’m good at. And there are a lot of things I’m not so good at. One of them is dates.

Not like GOING on dates. Though I can’t say I’m great at that or anything. 

There is a 50% chance I will forget your birthday. Even if it’s listed on Facebook, I will probably miss it. Even my best friends in the world, I balls it up. When my BFF Stowe turned 25, I wished him a happy 23rd birthday. He has never let me live this down. Nor should he! I’m a certified non-genius in this area. It’s not intentional. I’m just bad at this. 

Which is how I managed to miss my one year blog-aversary.

IT’S A WORD.

(…it’s not a word…)

I published my first blog post on 10/6/12. It’s been one year. I have 45 posts. Some food successes, and some food failures. A lot of (bad) jokes. A lot of self deprecation. And far too many Downton Abbey themed animated gifs.

 What have I learned this year whilst living and blogging? 

Sometimes, my blog posts get written on my list of things to do. “Write meatloaf post.” And then, it feels like a burden. Because it’s another thing to get done and crossed off. But it’s not. It’s filling a space that’s been empty since I stopped doing theatre. (Ok, it’s not COMPLETELY filling it. Unless I was singing show tunes while I was cooking. Which I could totally do…) 

But it’s kind of an awesome feeling when someone says they laughed at something in my post. I love making people laugh. And I love to cook. It’s the best of both worlds, really. 

So. A New Year’s Resolution for a new year of bloggery: blog more. 

I’m not going to commit to anything crazy, because my job is still my job (touch wood) and that’s still busy. But I’d like to write at least once a week. So when I get to my second blog-aversary, I have a whole 97 posts. But I’d like to do it even more than that.

…Heh. She said ‘do it.’

You guys are great. Thanks for reading. Go cook and eat things. 

And above all, stay fake. 

Nothing fake here.

Nothing fake here.

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Appeteasers: Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip and French Onion Tart

I think the food you make says a lot about you.

In this case, I’m a dip and a tart.

WINK.

On Saturday, I co-hosted a wedding shower for my friends Lindsay and Tim. It was held at our friends Emily & Paul’s house and we had a lovely low country boil. Emily and I made appetizers. Emily did the lion’s share of the appetizer cookery, but I brought two dishes along.

When selecting dishes for a large group, you have to take in mind several considerations. 1) There are a lot of vegetarians, so you need something veg friendly. 2) Some of these people are REALLY good cooks. You can’t bring nachos to a foie gras fight. Plus, Tim is one of the founders of the soon-to-be Small Batch Beer Co. Tim is all about flavors—both in his food and in his beer—so I had to bring my A game.

When all was said and done, our appetizer menu looked a little something like this. (I’m pretty sure every recipe is from Food52. No, they don’t pay me to say that. Because why would they. But if they WANTED to…. I would take their money. To buy food. To make more recipes. From Food52.)

During the party, someone asked me what I made and I actually said, “I’m the dip and the tart.” I suppose it’s better than being the devil?

Anywho, as per ushe, I made two recipes I’d never made before for this event. Cause I live on the MOTHER-EFFING EDGE. (Or rather, I take JUST enough of a risk that I may fuck up and have to pick up a quiche at the store on the way to the party.) But thankfully, my risk was rewarded.

These recipes are really easy. And really great. Particularly the dip. I love a good dip. This one had such great flavor—the roasted fennel gave such depth. It was rich and creamy. Great on a crostini or a chip. And despite cutting off a chunk of my fingernail while chopping rosemary (cause, duh, I’m dippy), this was a huge success.

PLEASE NOTE. I did not serve anyone my fingernail. Nor was there any cross-contamination or accidental vampirism. I handled that shit like a pro. No Jamie from Top Chef All-Stars “I need to go get stitches” ish. I flipped my cutting board, got a new knife, cleaned up my finger, gloved my hand up and JUST KEPT COOKING.

It's not top scallop.

It’s not top scallop. Or top stitches. It’s Top Chef.

And this tart. Let’s just say if you want to impress someone, make this tart. It takes some time but it is not hard. You make your own crust! You cut two pounds of onions, which makes you cry, bawl, and snot in your kitchen! You make the tart! You want to eat the tart, but you can’t cut through the onions because they’re all tangly! But that’s ok! It’s delicious! It’s yummy! And it’s pretty!

Just like a tart oughta be.

French Onion Tart

Serves 6 to 8

For the filling

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, peeled & sliced thin
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed & stems discarded
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 2/3 cups Swiss cheese, shredded

For the Swiss cheese pastry crust

  • ¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour | I found this at Whole Foods!
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons very cold butter, shredded using a box grater
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cold seltzer | I wound up using about 3 ½ tablespoons of seltzer

To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Cover pot, reduce heat as low as it can go without shutting off, and let cook until onions have cooked down and released a lot of their liquid, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Add the flour, salt, and paprika to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix the dry ingredients. Add the cheese and butter, then pulse a few times until it forms a sandy-looking mixture. Add 1 tablespoon of seltzer, pulse again until a rough ball of dough comes together. If the mixture is too dry and crumbly, add more seltzer 1 teaspoon at a time (you may not need the entire 2 tablespoons…or you may need more like, 3 ½ tablespoons), and continue to pulse until you have a ball of dough. (Mine did not come together in a ball, but was moist enough to come together into a ball.) Turn the dough out onto an unfloured counter, flatten and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Remove cover from the pot of onions, raise heat to medium, add the thyme and season with salt and pepper. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until onions turn golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. When onions are golden and very tender, stir in the sherry vinegar. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a medium bowl.

Place the chilled dough between two sheets of parchment paper, and roll it into a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch ungreased springform pan. Fold down sides of dough, leaving a 1-inch high crust.

To finish the filling, add the egg and cheese to the bowl with the onions. Stir to mix well. Pour mixture over the tart crust and spread to the edges using a rubber spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

French Onion Tart

French Onion Tart

Roasted Fennel & White Bean Dip

For Roasted Fennel

  • 1 Large or 2 small fennel Bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic still in papery shell
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Cannellini Bean puree

  • ¾ cups Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled and minced
  • 2 ½ cups Cooked Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice, Freshly squeezed
  • ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • Crostini

First make the roasted fennel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the fennel and garlic cloves in the olive oil and spread on a sheet pan. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning twice during cooking. Take out and let cool. When cool squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins.

Start the cannellini bean puree. In a small frying pan heat 1/2 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and cook until lightly golden, add rosemary and cannellini beans and cook for one minute more. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Take it off the heat.

In a food processor combine the garlic bean mixture, fennel, roasted garlic, lemon juice, remaining ¼ olive oil and all but 3 tablespoons of the parmigiano-reggiano. (Or….top with a lot more cheese.) Puree until smooth.

Raise oven temp to 450ºF. Transfer puree into a small baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Feel free to add more. If your dish is near full, place it on a baking sheet, in case it bubbles over in the oven. Bake until cheese is golden on top, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with crostini. Enjoy!

Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip

Roasted Fennel and White Bean Dip

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