Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mid-Week Malaise: Fried Oreos and Rosé

It’s the middle of the week and I have that mid-week malaise. It’s too soon to get excited about this weekend. So I will reminisce about last weekend. And last weekend, I had fried Oreos and rosé on the porch. Did you? No?

Well, that’s a shame.

I’m not going to say that I won.

…but I think it’s pretty clear.

My friend Rebecca came down from DC on Saturday and we had just a splendid weekend. I don’t want to get all Mother’s Day-Facebook-post-sentimental about it, but we became fast friends eight years ago working in our first jobs together. You’ve heard of the saying, “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.” This one is platinum.

Alright, I know, that was REALLY sappy. But I stand by it.

Ernie, as I sometimes call her (her maiden name is Ernst), came in gunning for a blog-worthy weekend and a blog-worthy weekend we had. She arrived on Saturday and we went to the Strawberry Street Festival, which was quite literally across the street from my house. I thought this street festival was going to be like, a tent with a guy doing balloon animals. He may or may not be out on a parole violation. You may or may not want to let your kids talk to him. Not so, my friends. There were several delicious food vendors, activities for the kids (bouncy houses! parrots! seriously, parrots!), some really artists and cool local shops, like Love This. They sell cool pieces, like jewelry, shoes, etc., for a great cause.

ART

ART

This is my new art from Lightbox Print Co. They do hand drawn art of buildings in The Fan. These are restaurants in The Fan and at this point I’ve only eaten at 2 of them. Challenge accepted.

And yes, we had fried oreos, drank a bottle of rose, and sat on the porch.

A match made in heaven

A match made in heaven

A woman walked by and said, “God, that looks great.”

You’re right, perfect stranger. Standing tall on the wings of my dreams…nothing’s gonna stop me now.

Next stop on our tour de food was Proper Pie Co. This is another reason why I love Rebecca. I mentioned that there was a pie shop in town and she said, “well…should we go there?” Yes. Yes we should. Proper Pie Co. is all pies, all the time. They have New-Zealand style savory hand pies, plus sweet pies. This place is dope. (Is that cool to say? I don’t know.) We split a Thai Butternut Squash Hand pie and picked up a piece of coconut cream and peach and blackberry cobbler to split later. Spoiler alert: they were absolutely scrumptious. Go there now, people of Richmond. Who am I kidding, you probably already have.

PIe dios mio.

PIe dios mio.

We went to a minor league baseball game, which was really just a vehicle for us to eat hot dogs and curly fries. Our local team is the The Richmond Flying Squirrels. So, let me correct myself. The baseball game was a vehicle to eat hot dogs and squirrely fries (seriously). I really impressed Rebecca by knowing who Carl Yazstremzki is. She’ll say she wasn’t that impressed, but I know she REALLY was.

On Sunday, I made brunch.

I love you, brunch.

I love you, brunch.

While everyone else was posting really lovely, effusive stuff about their moms on Facebook, Rebecca and I watched the first episode of Bloodline, a pretty fucked up family drama/thriller on Netflix. You know, we had to balance it all out.

Stop whatever you’re doing and watch Bloodline right now. Because Kyle Chandler is in it. I’ve been a Kyle Chandler fan (we call ourselves ‘Fandlers’…we’re working on the name) since Early Edition. Remember that show? With the blind lady and the cat. He’d get tomorrow’s news today and he’d have to try to change it. It was a terrible concept. When I was younger, I asked my dad if the actress who played the blind lady was really blind. And my dad won’t let my live this down to this very day. I’m 30, you guys. But here’s the thing. I was in 6th grade, so I should’ve probably known better. Embarrassing.

Anyway, Bloodline! It’s a Netflix original. The cast is incredible. Kyle Chandler (obviously), Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepherd, Linda Cardellini, some people you’ve never heard of from Broadway but who have won Tony Awards and are incredible. The setting is insanely beautiful. It’s so well shot. It is INTENSE. I’ve seen all thirteen episodes and I actually screamed into my hands one time. But it’s seriously that good. So, stop watching whatever you’re watching and watch this.

And then as quickly as she came to Richmond, Rebecca went back up north. To the land of……..well, shit. I don’t even know. What’s in DC again? Anything?

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Brand New Man: The Hamburglar

Breaking news from McDonald’s on Mashable yesterday: the Hamburglar is back and he’s pretty hot.

Robble Robble indeed. Via Mashable

Robble Robble indeed. Via Mashable

Yes, the Hamburglar is a human man, he’s married, he’s got a human kid, he owns a house and he’s smokin’.

Is this RULL weird to anyone else?

The Hamburglar should look like Rocky Dennis.

Correct

Correct  Via Mcdonalds.Wikia.com

He should not look like Joe Manganiello.

Incorrect. via TheHollywoodBillboard

Incorrect.
via TheHollywoodBillboard

I should not want to sleep with the Hamburglar. Cause I never wanted to before. (Sorry, Dad.)

McDonald’s VP of Marketing, Joel Yashinsky, said something curious about The Hamburglar’s new look. “He’s had some time to grow up a bit and has been busy raising a family in the suburbs and his look has evolved over time.”

Watch this spot, please.

Ok, fine. I will suspend all of my disbelief about his beautiful looks.

But…. he’s had some time to grow up. And he’s been raising a family in the ‘burbs.

Ok, cool. I believe that people can change. Maybe he got arrested after a string of burger robberies. Maybe he’s out on parole. Maybe he got rehabbed in prison. Maybe he got his degree in jail. Worked in the kitchens. Found religion. I don’t know.

Yet, the SECOND he hears that McDonald’s has created the new Sirloin Third Pound burger (on an ad playing on a radio WITH A CASSETTE PLAYER), he drops his unbelievably clean grill spatula.

Get the mask out of storage. He’s got one more job to pull. 

McDonald’s is really perpetuating some ugly truths about the recidivism rate in this country.

(Hat tip, T. Stowe Nelson, MSNBC, and Lockup.)

There’s another spot, too. Equally unfathomable.

I would call this dude a sociopath.

Going back to the quote from the Marketing VP. The Hamburglar has grown up. He’s matured. Um, clearly not. Clearly he hasn’t moved on AT ALL. His name is Hamilton B. Urglar (if Wikipedia is to be believed.) Why HOW would he be able to do anything but burgle hamburgers? He couldn’t become an account executive or a graphic designer or own a skateboard shop. It’s literally in his chemistry to steal hamburgers.

To me, this is another attempt at nostalgia done weirdly by a big brand. It’s too soon to tell if it’s done wrong, but I can’t say with any confidence that it’s going well. It’s certainly not meeting the CEO Steve Easterbrook’s challenge to build “brand excitement.”

I do not want to eat a sirloin triple burger.

That Hamburglar sure looks tasty, though.

Probably not the kind of excitement they were going for.

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On Life and Death: Josh Ozersky

Dearest readers, please be warned. I’ve put on my serious hat today.

It is a cruelty of life that you may not find something that you love until it is gone.

I didn’t know of Josh Ozersky until he was gone. He was a food writer who died on Monday in Chicago. From what I’ve read about him, he was both uniquely talented and supremely difficult. One of the rare people whose difficulty was accepted because his talent was so profound.

I started reading his writing yesterday when Saveur reposted this piece from 2013, written by Josh about his father, David. It’s beautiful, sad and supremely honest. It’s worth every minute of your time.

And now, I can’t stop reading. There’s a touching tribute and recent articles compiled by The Wall Street Journal, sent to me by my dad (surprise, surprise).

I know very little of the man, but I love food and words and he seemed to relish both. If you can read (which I’m pretty sure you can), be sure to read these pieces.

Don’t worry, dear readers, I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled frivolity shortly.

Life may be cruel, but what is life without silliness?

That would hardly be life at all.

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A Treatise: How to Make the Perfect Cheese Plate

A comprehensive guide to making the perfect cheese plate.

Step one: Buy cheese.
This should seem obvious, as this is a lesson on cheese plate-makery. But some of you aren’t that bright.
No, no nooooo, not YOU. You’re GREAT. Have you done something different with your hair?! It looks so shiny.
Other “real” sources of food/entertaining media are going to give you some practical advice for how to tackle this subject. Go for different flavors, textures, types of cheese (cow/goat/other) (what the shit is the other?) (oh god, I hope it isn’t pig).
But I’m going to tell you a few things they’re not going to tell you.
A) Buy what you like. There ain’t no shame in simplicity. So get something that you crave. Need to work on the cheap? Kraft singles cut into quarters, Cracker Barrel block of extra sharp cheddar, Easy Cheese. Serve with Chicken in a Biskit crackers and bologna. Mic drop.
B) This is probably a really controversial move in the world fromage but I’m going to say it: test a new cheese on your plate.
I KNOW. This is basically the wildest idea since sliced cheese.
You’ll never know if you like it til you try something new. Now, this is risky. I once bought a cheese that sounded delicious in theory and tasted like cigarette butts, so I threw that shit out. Which was frustrating because it was a waste of money. But, now I know: Cigarette Butt Goat’s Cheese is not for me. I should’ve probably looked at the name before I bought it…
This is where it’s great to find samples wherever you can: at the local Farmer’s Market, your gro sto, wherever. At my local Kroger, there is a Murray’s Cheese Bar outpost and they have bins of cheeses for $5 and under. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to try new cheeses. You know, if you live in Richmond by the Carytown Kroger. #specific #rva
Step two: Pair that cheese with some stuff.
Eloquently said, Novak.
Bring some other players to the key party cheese plate. This is a way to bring some other textures, flavors, some more salt, some more sweet to the table. Olives are always a welcome sight on my cheese plate because their brininess typically hits my palate in a different way than the cheeses do. Throw in some meats, some grainy mustard, some tart jam and you’ve got yourself a stew going.
Cheese, please.

Cheese, please.

Step Three: Let your cheese sit on the counter for an hour before you serve.
This is really the only rule I live by.
Not, like, in my life.
I live by PLENTY of rules. Like, traffic rules. And a lot of social conventions. But this is my one hard and fast cheese plate rule. I really should’ve been more specific. I’ll add “be more specific” to the ole rule book.
When you pull cheese from the fridge, it has a completely different texture and taste than when it sits on the counter for an hour or so. This is one of those things that I heard and was like, “well, that is utter rubbish.”
And then I tried it and was like, “well, clearly I am utter rubbish.” The cheese is genuinely so much better after the chill has come off. You get all the nuances.
So there you have it. Three easy steps to make the perfect cheese plate. Which was always perfect because it was made by you. (Cue the Full House-style audience reaction: awwwwwwww).
Make yourself happy. Eat some cheese.
That’s a rule to live by if ever I’ve heard one.
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Cookie Snobbery: Momofuku Milkbar Cookie Mixes

My name is Bethany Novak. And I am a snob.

No, not a snob for everything. I mean, I love my butler just as much as I love my housemaids. But they are NOT to look at me in the eyes.

Truth is, I am a cookie snob. I typically find that packaged cookie mixes are sub-par.

I know, I know. Fire up the stakes. Let’s burn the witch.

I was walking through Target on Saturday morning, wearing my Toronto Blue Jays hat, and playing a game where I make up player names in case someone ever asked me who my favorite player is. My latest one is Mark St. Clair. He was a 3rd baseman in the 90s. Had a .400 batting average. He is not real.

Anyway, I was walking up and down the aisles of Target without a list, which is really dangerous. You can spend a lot of money in there. But when you wander unencumbered by a list, hidden in the shadows of your Blue Jays hat, you make phenomenal discoveries. I stumbled upon Momofuku Milk Bar cookie mixes.

If you do not know Momofuku Milk Bar, you do now. It’s the bakery part of the Momofuku family of restaurants, which is based in NYC, and it’s delightful. It’s incredibly whimsical and yet nostalgic, but also so simple. Flavors straight out of childhood (or straight out of a smoky hotbox).

I’m a bit too familiar with the Milk Bar website for my own good. I bought some cookies and truffles as Christmas gifts this year. But I didn’t realize they sold these mixes at Target.

I started with the Compost Cookie, one of their signature flavors. Like other Target versions of haute brands, this product is a bit cheaper than you would get it on the Milk Bar site ($6.99 vs. $16.00). But you actually get a bit more cookie for your buck. A package from Target makes a dozen. The box from the Milk Bar site makes 9. Curious.

But what is not compromised in the slightest is the flavor. I’ve had the cookies from the bakery and they taste identical to the ones that I made in my kitchen this weekend. So, I stand corrected. Some cookie mixes can live up to the real thing. Mea culpa.

Compost Cookie, a tableau

Compost Cookie, a tableau

My friend Natalie saw my Instagram post about the mixes on Saturday and requested “a review with photos and lots of adjectives.” So without further ado, this is for you, Natalie. And anyone else who managed to make it through all the “jokes” to the point of the post.

Ok, adjectives. Um. Well. Yikes. Ok. These cookies are good. Err, no. They’re delicious.

No, those are fluff words that mean squat. Has watching Alton Brown taught me nothing??!

These cookies are perplexing. You shouldn’t want to like them but you do. They shouldn’t make sense but they do. They’re sweet. They’re super sweet. Chocolate chips and butterscotch chips combined put it almost over the edge. But then you come across the potato chips and the pretzels, which give a much-needed punch of salt. It’s a well-balanced cookie.

Mix it up

Mix it up

It’s also a cookie that is has great texture, almost like a granola bar. The crunchy pretz, the flaky chip, the thick oats. For all the stuff that is in it, it is packed full of flavor, but finishes really light. The cookies bake up soft in the middle, but caramelized on the edges.

Christina Tosi, you sexy bitch.

I’m not mad at it. 

This would be the cookie your grandma would make if you got your grandma kinda high. And everybody would love them. Regular grandma. High grandma. Kids. Adults.

Even the recovering snobs among us.

Momofuku Mixes are available at many but not all Target stores and on Target.com.

Check out Momofuku Milk Bar for their whole line of products. They ship pies, cakes, cookies, trufflies, mixes, cookbooks, etc. Word on the street is that the truffles are the tits.

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Take Your Children To Work Day: Chicken Tinga Tacos

Today is Taco Take Your Children To Work Day. So it seems only appropriate to have a post about MyFakeFoodDad, Dave.

Few of you have had the privilege of meeting my dad, but to know Dave is to love Dave.

Do you doubt? Let me explain. Meet Dave.

He doesn’t look like he’s having fun, but he is.

He worked on the railroad for his whole career. He can identify the meaning of a train whistle just by its sound. Now that he’s retired, he’s building a model railroad loosely based on the railroad where he worked when he met my mom. Pretty romantical, if you ask me. Also, nerdy. Old white man hobbies, amiright? (Don’t think he’s not reading this. I would say and have said this to his face. Love you, Pops!)

Dave loves Magnum P.I. and The Rockford Files and has instilled in me a healthy love and respect for both. We watch The West Wing every Thanksgiving, Die Hard every Christmas, and Nacho Libre every Easter. For that is how we do.

Dave will do most anything for a joke (sound familiar?), but he’s also really very thoughtful. He’s a long time reader of the Wall Street Journal and always keeps an eye out for articles that would interest me (and my friends). Theatre! Fashion! Production! Television! Recipes! So many recipes! All of the recipes!

A recent article he shared is about the culture of tacos in America. I love that sentence so much that I’m going to write it again. A recent article he shared is about the culture of tacos in America. The summary is that we’re starting to see a trend back toward the traditional roots of the taco and away from the culture of Anything Goes tacos. No, I don’t mean Cole Porter tacos. (That was for all you musical theatre nerds). What I mean is a taco where anything goes, like Doritos Locos tacos, Korean Barbecue tacos, or Tex Mex tacos. These things may be delicious, but they are not authentically Mexican in either flavor profile or ingredients.

The article included a recipe for Chicken Tinga Tacos from Bajo Sexto Taco in Nashville. Run, don’t walk, to make these for Cinco de Mayo. Or any day de Mayo. Or venticuatro de abril. (That’s tomorrow, people.)

FullSizeRender

They are deeply soul satisfying. The sauce is spicy with a sharp bite from the vinegar, which cools off instantly from the creamy avocado. I paired it with a grilled Mexican corn salad and some chips and guac. Because duh.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that. Tacos are the best. My dad is the best.

I just can’t decide which I love more.

Chicken Tinga Tacos from Bajo Sexto Taco via wsj.com

  • 2½ pounds boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ (7-ounce) can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 12 fresh corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roast chicken until mostly cooked but still pink and juicy, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, shred meat coarsely.

Meanwhile, caramelize onions: Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, tossing to coat with oil, until softened, 10 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons water, then reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and deep golden, 20-30 minutes more. If pan becomes dry, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to prevent burning.

Make sauce: In a blender, process caramelized onions, chilies with sauce, garlic, vinegar and a pinch each of salt and pepper until smooth.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet. Once shimmering, add sauce and cook until rust-brown and thickened, 3-4 minutes. Add chicken, stir to coat, and cook until no longer pink, 3-4 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken on tortillas with a slice of avocado.

Mexican Corn Salad from Bon Appetit

  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 ounce Cotija cheese or Parmesan, crumbled (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until tender and charred, 8–10 minutes; let cool slightly. Cut kernels from cobs and transfer to a medium bowl.

Whisk mayonnaise, lime juice, paprika, cayenne, if using, 2 oz. Cotija cheese, and 2 tablespoons cilantro in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add corn and toss to combine. Top with more cheese and cilantro.

DO AHEAD: Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Corn can be grilled and cut from cobs 1 hour ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Guacamole from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook via FoodNetwork.com

  • 4 ripe Haas avocados
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 8 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the pits, and scoop the flesh out of their shells into a large bowl. Immediately add the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss well. Using a sharp knife, slice through the avocados in the bowl until they are finely diced. Add the tomatoes. Mix well and taste for salt and pepper.

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Food-vertisment: Sargento Commercials make me Swiss-cidal

Let’s play Specific Desert Island.

You’re trapped on a desert island. You have all sorts of islandy things to eat: pineapples, warthogs, fishes, rum. But you get to bring a lifetime supply of any one item with you. What is it?

There is no wrong or right answer here, people.

Except my answer is the right answer and every other answer is the wrong answer.

Don’t you see? It’s cheese. You won’t find cheese in the wild. You won’t find cheese in the sea. You can’t make cheese from a pig. And if you can and one of you has tried it, please don’t tell me.

Cheese. Cheese is the answer. Cheeses is the reason for the season. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I have 8 types of cheese in my fridge right now. How many types can I eat at once? I don’t know. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I was watching the best episode of Chopped ever yesterday. They had an Amateur’s Brawl and it’s an absolute delight. Drew Magary of Deadspin finally got his chance to compete after his application for the show went viral a few years back.

This episode of Chopped was brought to us by the good people of Sargento. They’re Real Cheese People. #RealCheesePeople

Charles what now?

I’m including a video that I shot from my TV. Apologies for the terrible quality.

 

Did no one at the cheese company realize that CHEESE is one letter off from CHEESY? Apparently the writer of this spot set out to write the cheesiest muenster-fucking script there ever was. I take some serious issue with it.

You’re cheese people? Like, a person made of cheese…? You want a piece of real and a slice of legit? If you’re such a real cheese person, why don’t you put your legit where your mouth is and put a piece of cheese in your mouth.

A slice of legit. What does that even mean? Seriously. I make up phrases all the time. (I take you back 2 paragraphs to “muenster-fucking.”) But a “slice of legit.” That’s puffery.

Now, don’t think I don’t understand what they’re going for here. They want us to REALLY understand that their cheese is real cheese. They’re trying to distinctly differentiate themselves from Kraft singles, which is “processed cheese food.” This is actual cheese. Made from actual milk. For real cheese people.

And real cheese people are authentic. And legit.

Like these two guys.

#RealCheesePeople

#RealCheesePeople

These two guys who look like they were just told their wives have been killed by wolves in the barn behind them and then forced at gunpoint to hold up this picture of distant relatives for a TV shoot.

Seriously. These guys look like they HATE cheese. And barns. And definitely wolves. They certainly don’t get off on the creamy mouthfeel of a piece of camembert. Or the oniony bite of a piece of cotswold. These are not people who have bought cheese for their best friend as a birthday present. (Yes, I have done that. What of it?)

But these guys dweebs. These dweebs live their life shredding authenticity wherever they go. They’re so mother-feta legit.

Listen, I could get all arrogant about who wrote this piece of real. (Get it?) But…who approved it?

Seriously. Who thought that this made anyone want to buy cheese?

This commercial is a handjob for the Sargento family. And I think that we can all tell by their faces that they’re not having a very good time.

But hey. If there’s one thing we can say about them, is that they’re real cheese people.

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Freezer Food: For When Life is a Dick

Sometimes, life kicks you in the balls.

And when life has punched you in the stomach and you are picking your teeth up off the floor, my recommendation is: mix your metaphors and make some food.

What I mean is this: sometimes you’ve got to make a meal when someone has just had a baby. Or because someone has died. (Not for the dead person…for the alive people…. you know.) Or you need to cook when someone is in the hospital or if someone is just plain going through a hard time. A freezer meal. Something that can defrost easily and reheat well.

Cause let’s be honest. Life can be cruel and you need your teeth for teethin’, your stomach for eatin’ and your balls for ballin’.

Parker’s Beef Stew from Barefoot Contessa via Food Network 

via FoodNetwork.com

via FoodNetwork.com

  • 2 ½ pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • ½ pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in half
  • 1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 cups or chicken stock or broth
  • 1 large or 2 small branch fresh rosemary
  • ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas

Note: You will need to plan ahead for this recipe. Beef needs to marinate overnight. So get your shit together, please!

Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight. 

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you’ll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes via Martha Stewart 

via marthastewart.com

via marthastewart.com

  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving

COOK’S NOTE

To Freeze: Prepare through step 4; let cool. Cover tightly with foil, and freeze, up to 3 months.

To Bake From Frozen: Preheat oven to 400, and bake (still covered in foil) on a rimmed baking sheet until center is hot, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil; bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

Note: Watch this. It didn’t seem to bake through the center from frozen like…ever.

Fried Chicken: A Valentine’s Gift to Myself

Valentine’s Day is kind of a crock, right?

Listen. That’s not some jaded/single/lonely perspective.

Though I am single. And truthfully, a little lonely. (Moving is hard.) But I’m not jaded.

I love love (particularly more than LP or Stowe will ever love love). But Valentine’s Day is a bit of a crock. Why celebrate your love on just one day? Is your love so wimpy that it can be contained to just one day?

And as someone on the internet said, in elementary school, the whole class was your Valentine. Why limit yourself to just one Valentine?

I’m a huge fan of the Galentine’s Day, made popular by my fictional best friend, Leslie Knope. A date with your best gal pals. Nothing bad about that!

Only the best day of the year!

Only the best day of the year!

But because moving is hard, I’m flying solo this Valentine’s Day.

I saw this Bon Appetit article yesterday on what their staff is cooking this Valentine’s Day. I’ll be honest, they all sound delicious. Fancy steak? Manhattans? Mac and Cheese? Macaroni and cheese is my spirit animal.

But this Valentine’s Day, I’m going to practice a little bit of self-love.

Ew. Not like that, sickos.

I’m going to make something that I love. Something special. A gift to myself.

My most favorite food in the whole world is fried chicken. So, fry chicken I will. I’ve only ever done it once and it was only ok. But if at first you don’t succeed, try try again, right?

I’ve got a few days to find the right recipe and the right accompaniments. Off the top of my head: mac and cheese, biscuits with honey butter, green beans. Accompanied by some bourbon. And some sort of dessert. But that’s just off the top of my head. Or whatever.

Valentine’s Day might be a crock but I’m down to celebrate love and fried chicken. I’ll happily share the love. But I’m not going to share the fried chicken.

As they always say, all is fair in love and chicken.

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Dangerous Chocolate: Firecracker Bar from Chuao Chocolatier

In the words of the illustrious, Katy Perry, “baby you’re a firework, Come on, show ’em what you’re worth/Make ’em go, “Aah, aah, aah’/As you shoot across the sky-y-y.”

Yeah….

(I swear this connects.)

(Sorta.)

I was at The Fresh Market a few days ago and I was hungry for chocolate. So I found myself a nice, sensible dark chocolate bar to take home.

Then when I was checking out, I saw these fancy bars of chocolate by the register. They were in a basket and they looked intriguing. And they were a dollar off, so I just went for it. Cause I’m an adult who gets to make her own decisions.

Firecracker Chocolate via chuaochocolatier.com

Firecracker Chocolate via chuaochocolatier.com

What I bought was a bar of chocolate from Chuao Chocolatier. I’d never heard of them before, but they’re a Venezuelan chocolatier based in southern California. (In fact, they’re the first Venezuelan chocolatier in the US. So, there you go.) Their primary mission is to create “creating unusual, unexpected and delicious flavors.”

I like all those things.

So, I tried my chocolate bar: the Firecracker bar.

Made with sea salt, chipotle and popping candy.

…that’s right. Popping candy.

It’s beautiful dark chocolate, rich and just a little bit sweet. The sea salt balances the sweetness in the chocolate. There’s a bit of a little smoky burn from the chipotle. And then…the popping candy hits.

And it’s weird.

It’s fucking REAL weird.

But it’s not unpleasant. In fact, I rather liked it. It gives another dimension to the chocolate. The popping doesn’t add anything from a flavor perspective, but it’s a great experience. Like the movie just went from 2D to 3D. Just a final note as the chocolate finishes on your palate, which lends a bit of danger to your chocolate eating.

Will it a) explode and kill me or b) give me a nice sensation on the tongue? Perhaps one that will make me go “aah, aah, aah”?

The one weird thing about it is that all the squares appear to have words written on them. One set of little bricks I got said “lick, smile, flutter.” I don’t like my chocolate telling me what to do, alright? I’m going to lick whatever I want whenever I want.

Wait, that came out wrong.

Anyway, this chocolate will explode in your mouth. So put it in your mouth today.

Wait, that wasn’t better.

Help me out, Katy Perry.

Yeahhhh. Not better. But thanks for trying.

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