Sure, Why Not?

Pavlovas with Passion Fruit Curd

“Pavlovas with Passion Fruit Curd” from Key Ingredient

I’m not really a morning person about 50% of the time. Because, usually, this “morning” period starts way to early and lasts way long. So, when I am awoken too early in the morning I tend to make very bad decisions. A lot of “I love you” moments have happened at 6 AM. Why? Because I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. And if I can make some of the mistakes I’ve made with issues like that early in the morning, you can probably imagine quite easily that I forget my breakfast. A lot. I forgot it this morning and now I’m looking at this lovely image and thinking: That would work. But no, it wouldn’t work. I have passion fruit curd at home (thank yous to the mommy of my roomie who’s mom makes it in Mexico and brings it to us occasionally). It’s amazing on scones (See recipe we use HERE) and scones are much better for breakfast than pavlovas. But I’m really hungry and OH! Look! There’s a whole container of black walnut and chocolate chip cookies my brother made hidden under my desk…. Why not?

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What’s in a Name…?

As a good English Major I’m opposed to the romanticization of Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet”. If you really want to argue with me about it feel free to try but if you win the argument just know you’ve got weird aesthetic tastes in literature. Just saying. But using quotes seems to garner an appropriate amount of attention and this one does apply…somewhat.

At the G-Ma’s for the weekend again, only some minor medical hiccups and we’ll be off to test for blood clots after lunch but that’s just a safety precaution at this point. For a woman turning 92 this Sunday she’s got a lot of energy. Possibly even more than myself at this point in the week. I just found out that as “staff” at the Uni I’m not allowed to take off for the midterm break and I’m really not too thrilled about that. Especially when I’m AHEAD in my administrative work and there won’t be any students to council as they will all be off having fun somewhere else. Well that’s not true. There are students on campus, some of whom are planning to study, but I can almost guarantee that 80% of them are not Freshmen (i.e. not really my problem) and that out of the remaining numbers 99.9% of them don’t need my help as they are actually studying over midterm break. Who does that? I know I never did. But I’ve set up a cookies and milk party for my late night shift on Monday (if I actually have to stay for that) so all is not lost.  I think I’ll make these:

Brown-Sugar, Brown-Butter, Shorties

But here’s what this post is really about: Breakfast.

I don’t really like breakfast as a practice. I do it because it’s good for me and if I don’t I’ll be grouchy all day and eat too much junk food. But the idea of having to wake up at unGodly hours just so that I can have enough time to toast myself some bread and spread some form of lubrication on it is just horrifying. And all I really need the toast for is to having something in my stomach to make sure I don’t feel sick to my stomach when I drink coffee. This is what breakfast has become and it’s downright unacceptable!

So this morning I didn’t do it. I made tea (Earl Grey with goat’s milk) and helped my Gma make her warm soy milk (she’s between a walker and a cane while she recovers). Then there were texts and phone calls about what to do with her leg that was swollen to dangerous proportions last night (stockings are evil) and eventually I got around to having a proper “breakfast”: Waffles with poached eggs. Well one poached egg I can’t eat that many in a sitting.

I may be a Tobing by name but I am definitely a Flynn at heart. As a kid my grandpa (the Flynn side)used to gross me out with some of his eating habits. One of my biggest issues was with his method of eating waffles with eggs. He’d take these beautiful waffles and then put a fried egg, sunny-side up, on top and cut it so the yolk would break and mix with the syrup and soak into the waffle and run all over the plate… I used to make a face every time. One day he put his fork down and looked me straight in the face and said: “Josie, don’t you dare make that face one more time until you’ve actually tried it.” He then proceeded to cut me a piece of waffled soaked in runny egg yolk and syrup and told me to open up and try it.

To this day that is the only way I will eat waffles.

Without the egg yolk the waffles are incomplete and I simply cannot abide food that tastes incomplete. It leaves a big hole in my heart/stomach and I feel spiritually empty the rest of the day. As a quick disclaimer there are exceptions to the above rule and those are the flatter thinner waffles as opposed to the thick crispy-on-the-outside-yet-fluffy-on-the-inside waffles (see image below and the one below that). The thinner ones I eat with Nutella.

The “exception” Waffles: These can be served a variety of ways but I like them with either Nutella or cheese.

The kind of waffles I’m talking about

And if you’re looking to make your breakfast even BETTER you should poach your eggs in milk (with about a half a cube of chicken bullion). Of course, a good ol’ fashioned egg sunny-side up does the trick too.

Gastroporn Menu – September.2012

Dear Readers,

I apologize but this menu was not set to post automatically on Sept. 1 and is now several weeks late. The same goes for October’s Menu which will be posted shortly after this one.

Please accept my apologies and enjoy!

Regards,

Oci

September. 2012

It’s time for school (and work) to peak and become hectic. But one simply cannot push aside the small things in life that remind us that all that crazy is not what makes us human. Art is what defines us and so if we are what we eat….

Menu

Back to School Tea

Madeleines (There are several recipes on this site to choose from)

Shortbread Teabag Cookies (Site originally in French)

Frozen Iced Tea (Since September can still boast some pretty warm weather)

Cucumber sandwiches (These are vegan but that is easily solved with the right substitutions)

Saffron scones with rose petal jam

A Selection of Darjeeling Teas

The Big Blueberry

The other day we were back over at my grandma’s house to harvest berries. After the great DC power outages, which hit her area but not ours, and our trip to Chicago it had been a while since we’d gone to collect our blue-ty.

There were 6 of us down in the blueberry patch this time instead of the usual three and we were all excited to get picking. Unfortunately something happened over the last week or so and the crop was not doing so well. Instead of our usual 5-6 quarts of blueberries the size of dimes we ended up with a scrawny and all too reddish-in-hue 1.5 quarts and that was pushing it. My grandma made a pie with that harvest and each slice is requiring a rather large amount of doctoring.

While we’re not sure what happened to that last batch, which should have been ripe, there are still many many berries yet to ripen so we’re hoping that this was just some fluke of nature. Perhaps a bird got in through a tiny hole in the net and ate up all the good ones while we were away or the storm caused the process to slow. I’m no expert.

What I do know is that there are 3 different types of blueberry bushes in my grandpa’s garden and that the last three to get ripe also happen to be the sweetest variety of blueberry. In anticipation I’ve begun collecting a selection of potential recipes to try with the berries we look forward to harvesting after this weekend.

Another recipe I hope to dig up and make for myself during the summer is my Gpa’s blueberry jam recipe. It’s simply to die for with our family’s scone recipe (which can be found in “Tea Time, Nap Time, Fun Times“) and a dollop of homemade whipped cream. We have one or two bottles left from a large batch we made many years ago while he was still alive and I want to make sure we keep up recipes like that in the family.

But until I find his recipe book somewhere amongst his things I have this list:

Blueberry Pancakes

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Cookies

Blueberry Lemon Bars

Blueberry Lavender Mojito

Lemon-Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits

Blueberry Mojito

“Perfect” Blueberry Syrup

How Much For The Night?

After I graduated with my BA I went out of the country for a short time then came back to do some work for the university’s new summer program. The work wasn’t great and neither were most of the students but with the rest of my family in China and Indonesia for the summer it meant that I had the house to myself. My family has been described from “energetic” (the nice way of putting it) to “This is too much, I’m leaving” (the other nice way of putting it) when we’re all trying to cook in our kitchen.

Our kitchen isn’t as small or poorly laid out as some I’ve seen or worked in but it is a bit of a challenge when there are four people in it trying to do their own thing while supposedly “helping”. Having the kitchen to myself for a summer was pure bliss. The day after my parents had left for the summer, and before I had left for my trip, I had completely cleared out the fridge and freezer of anything I didn’t want in there and also cleaned every surface on the main floor in preparation for my moving out of my stuffy and hot room upstairs and taking over the rest of the house for the summer.

I like music while I cook so I set up my computer on the breakfast bar with a set of massive speakers and created a shelf on the counter for all my cookbooks. One of the cookbooks I was looking most forward to trying was this one:

Blissful Brownies

I’m pretty sure my mom got me this book as a gift, probably for my birthday which would explain how I had gone all the way until summer without trying anything in it. After doing my senior thesis on Derrida and “Robot Visions” my brain was ready for a little R&R.

Robot Visions – by Isaac Asimov

I started spending my lunch breaks down in the English department with the great Overmistress of the basement and the other assistant in the program drinking tea or coffee with some baked good or other and having a good giggle or sigh over the work of the day.

One day I brought in these:

Caramel Chocolate Shortbread

It was pure evil and it was oh so good. We also decided it’s street name was “Homemade Twix”.

After sharing it around that summer and beyond I found that favors could be bought with the promise of a batch of Homemade Twix and that it could also be made into a pie dish. I’ve gotten rides, help with events, and several other favors with these immoral treats and I think it only fair that those who can bake them also be allowed the same privileges.

Caramel Chocolate Shortbread

As a side note, the caramel filling from this recipe can be made on its own and is amazing as a sauce or condiment to other things.

Gastrotica

As I was roaming the halls of my alma mater last week carrying an extra copy of the “Food & Wine Magazine’s 2002 Cookbook” when I ran into a friend/old classmate/old office mate of mine who now works in the Provost’s office. Knowing he’s an excellent cook and would probably be able to make good use of my extra 2002 edition I gave it to him. We got to talking about our preferred types of cook books. While I (obviously) prefer the gastroporn genre of cookbooks and recipes he prefers the technical manual type.

During our eventual discussion of the appalling lack of decent cookbooks prior to the mid-nineties we both agreed that one of the gems of the period we were mourning was the (earlier editions) of Irma S. Rombauer’s “Joy of Cooking”.  My mother has the first 2 editions and I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve referred to these volumes for basics recipes and techniques that are often lost in the gastronomic sciences and the obsession with “the New”. Like a good bread book. The “Joy of Cooking” is a kitchen tool that a proper cook should consider having around.

The Joy of Cooking

There are  no photos in this book, and very few illustrations, which may seem odd for a gastroporn addict like myself. However, the recipes and basic cooking techniques are an absolute selling point.

The following are two recipes that I use regularly. One is a basic pound cake recipe and the other is one out of a 14-in-one cookie recipe that is beyond gastrogasmic and also happens to be naught but leftover crumbs on my dining table after I made a batch for my hardworking mother the other day for our session of watching “Surface” while she waited for Somalia and Kenya to wake up.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until very fluffy and well blended.
  2. Add peanut butter and beat until combined.
  3. Add and beat egg yolk until well combined.
  4. Add and beat egg and vanilla until well combined.
  5. reduce speed to low and beat in the flour just until combined
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour until firm. Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or or double wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.
  7. Roll the dough into 1 tablespoon balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet [I just use a cookie sheet sprayed lightly with Pam and it works fine].
  8. Using the bottom of a smooth, flour-coated, glass (or a fork), flatten each ball to about 1/8 inch thick.
  9. Bake at 375 F for 6-8 minutes [10 in my oven, which runs a bit cool].
  10. When done baking, transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature before serving.

Flo Braker’s Pound Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups twice sifted cake flour [can use all-purpose flour]
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace (optional) [I never do this since I usually use pound cake as a base for something else]
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Steps:

  1. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest, orange zest, and mace (if using) in a medium bowl.
  2. In a large bowl beat butter until creamy (about 30 seconds).
  3. Gradually add sugar and salt and beat on high speed until lightened in color (about 3-5 minutes) while scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Gradually dribble in the egg mixture, about 1 table spoon at a time, until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the flour in 3 parts, beating on low speed or stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.
  6. Scrape batter into the pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake at 325 F in a parchment-lined [or greased and floured] loaf pan for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.

The pound cake recipe sake it serves 6-8 but it can actually serve double that if you are putting something with each slice. You can also divide the batter into 2 loaf pans to achieve this.