December, 2009 Archive

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

vanilla roasted pears

vanilla roasted pears

I think this should be your new favorite way to show off. If your dinner parties are anything like mine, dessert arrives with more of a whimper than a bang. Oh yes, that trifle looks lovely, that cheesecake is most certainly the bomb, most people are probably thinking, but I just crawled out of a vat of deeply braised short ribs and I’m gasping for air. Doctor, gimme an apple, stat! I forgot what fresh food looks like.

pears aplenty
bosc peelings

Except, what was that you said about butter and sugar? Oohkay, sure, I’ll have a little bite. I mean, what’s a meal that doesn’t end with a sweet note? None that I want to be part of, to be honest. But when you want to unlock sweetness’s hold on richness, oh friends, please do this.

peeled, halved, cored, stems removed

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, December 5, 2009

coffee toffee

coffee toffee

I seem to be on a bit of a coffee kick these days — Exhibit A being Alex’s Espresso Chiffon birthday cake with Fudge Frosting and Exhibit B being Thanksgiving’s ridiculous Cappucino Fudge Cheesecake. I’m sure that’s it just coincidence that the coffee kick began just as the number of hours I slept each night decreased, which also coincided with me getting weepy with joy when I wrapped my fingers around my first coffee of the day each morning afternoon. Amazing how you can drink something your whole life but it then all of the sudden one day it becomes a transcendent experience, you know?

hazelnutsbutter, sugars, salt, espresso, chocolatecoffee toffeehalf-melted chocolate

Nevertheless my fascination with the intersection of coffee and toffee goes back much longer than that, at least as far as the Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies I made two years ago, and realized that the only thing that could make it more delicious would be to use a chocolate that had toffee bits in it. When Alex brought home Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch this week, I was again reminded of this amazing thing that happens when the buttery, tangy caramelized flavor of toffee contrasts the bitter edginess of espresso, and decided at once to combine the two in one espresso-soaked candy.

spreading the chocolatehazelnutting the toffeesettingcoffee toffee

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, December 3, 2009

cream biscuits

cream biscuits

There are biscuits and there are biscuits. There are biscuits that you serve with chili, with barbecue or alongside some eggs and grits. And there are biscuits that you bring out in a warmed basket with a cloth napkin draped over them at a dinner party, to sop up a braise or slather with honey-butter. These biscuits are of the latter variety but I suspect they will quickly become your one and only biscuit because if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder where they’ve been your whole life.

sifting
cream into flour, salt, baking powder

Because they’re so easy, it might feel like you are cheating: Five ingredients. A sifter, a mixing bowl and a puddle of melted butter. (That’s so going to be my first album title, I’ve decided.) Three minutes to assemble and twelve minutes to bake. And they remain the richest, lightest biscuits I’ve ever had, with serious plushness within and the faintest crunch at the edges, which sound as you tear one open as if you’d broken a cookie in half but then turned the volume on that sound way down. Or, uh, a very faint crunch.

biscuit dough

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

balsamic braised brussels with pancetta

balsamic braised brussels with pancetta

It seems unfair to compare the two Brussels sprouts dishes I have made in the last couple weeks because they’re so different, about the only thing they have in common is the stand where I bought them. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, boiled lima beans and chocolate cake, the cuteness of my kid versus the cuteness of any other baby on earth… you know? One of the dishes is rich, salty-sweet and fork tender, the other is raw, slightly rubbery, acidic and at least according to a review on Epicurious that I probably should have taken more seriously, “was like eating a bowl of grass”. You’ll never guess which one we liked better.

shaved brussels with walnuts and pecorino

But still, I couldn’t resist the latter one. I’m obsessed with slaws and the prospect of making a winter slaw of shredded Brussels was impossible to resist. I shaved them as thin as mandoline possible, toasted walnuts, added peels of Romano cheese and tossed them with lemon juice and olive oil only to end up with a knotty bowl of … grass. I salvaged it a bit by soaking it a while in a homemade vinaigrette with a bit of honey and you know, we did eat it which is the sign of a not-total-disaster, but I wouldn’t willingly make it again from this recipe.

readying the brusselsbrowning brussels and pancettareadybalsamic braised brussels, bread crumbs

Continued after the jump »


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