February, 2014 Archive

Friday, February 28, 2014

morning bread pudding with salted caramel

salted caramel upside down french toast

We should really talk about this. Promise you won’t get mad, okay? I came across this for the first time twelve years ago. I’ve been blogging here for almost eight years, which means I had ample time to tell you about and just didn’t. (I kinda feel like a kid right now who forgot to mention that they were flunking Spanish until report cards came out. I’m sooo grounded.) It gets worse. I finally made it on New Years Day for brunch and it was promptly declared one of the best things I’ve ever made, which is kind of rude. I mean, the lasagna bolognese can hear you! I still didn’t tell you about it, reasoning that it is Not Acceptable to talk about carbs, fat and refined sugar in the time of Resolutions. And then, late in January, we had another brunch and I made it again and still I held out. Sheesh, even I think I’m kind of a jerk right now.

mixed citrus salad
and also spinach strata, blood orange mimosas and bloody marys

Enough is enough. If you think it about it, it was always just a matter of time before two of this site’s great loves — French toast, or if you wanna be fancy, morning bread pudding, and salted butter caramel — got together to become something greater than the sum of their parts. This is basically French toast destiny.

getting ready to make caramel

Continued after the jump »

Monday, February 24, 2014

dijon and cognac beef stew

dijon and cognac beef stew

I don’t mean to shock you, I mean, I do hope you’re sitting down for this, but it turns out that when I asked my husband to choose between a caramelized cabbage dish, mushroom tacos, or a beef stew whose ante had been upped with butter, bacon, Dijon, cognac and a splash of red wine as his ideal homemade Valentine’s meal, he chose the beef stew. I could hardly believe it either. I mean, between my delivered flowers, his cufflinks and the kid’s heart-shaped candies, I might have to mix things up next year just to rage against predictability.

what you'll need
rendering the bacon fat

This isn’t just any beef stew, however. This stew is fancy. It’s luxe and lush and so intensely flavored, if you’re anything like me, after one bite you’ll forget every crock pot attempt that yielded thin broths, tough meat, weak flavor and, always, unevenly cooked vegetables (potato mush and still-rubbery carrots, sigh), or at least I did. It will an excellent consolation prize for a winter you’re totally ready to be done with, pretty as it can occasionally be.

snowy february

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, February 20, 2014

stuck-pot rice with lentils and yogurt

stuck-pot rice with lentils and yogurt

I once read that if you ask a guy what his favorite item of clothing is, he would pick the oldest thing he owns — some t-shirt he’s had since high school or nearly threadbare sweats. And if you ask a woman, she usually picks the last thing she bought. [Nobody mentioned four year-olds but obviously: fireman hat.] Gender stereotyping copy aside,* when it comes to recipes, this has me down to a T: my favorite thing to cook is usually the last thing I made. Because of this, I fail 100% of the time at “content-planning strategies” [or as it sounds in my head when I read phrases like this: blargle-blargle blargle] because while I’m supposed to be telling you about this great dish I made last week for Valentine’s, I only want to talk about what I made for dinner on Tuesday night. Because it’s my new favorite everything.

what you'll need, plus a fork
i rinsed my rice. for once.

When I first read about stuck-pot rice many years ago, I guffawed a bit, because who needs a recipe for that? I come from a long line of cooks that cannot make rice without burning it; any night where rice is on the stove ends with a gunked-up pot soaking overnight in the sink. It’s tradition; one day I will teach this guy too!

deb, your pot is too small!

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, February 13, 2014

chocolate peanut butter cheesecake

chocolate peanut butter cheesecake

This birthday cake was assigned to the side of the family whose dessert preferences can be roughly summarized as chocolate + anything else, but if that “else” were cheesecake, coffee, peanut butter or raspberries, all the better, thank you very much. Non-chocolate desserts are regarded politely, like curiosities at a zoo; perhaps something another family might enjoy? Their dessert formula can be thanked for all sorts of archive wonders, such as the Chocolate-Caramel Cheesecake, Double Chocolate Layer Cake, Espresso Chiffon Cake with Fudge Frosting, Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, Double-Chocolate Torte, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake.

melted butter into chocolate crumbs
using a measuring cup to press in crumbs

And now this, too, which is like the last two cakes got together and made an even better version of themselves for the next generation. If you remember seeing this in the 2013 year-end roundup, it’s true, I did make it over six months ago, but nothing about summer through early winter screamed a cake that looks like a Reeses peanut butter cup to me. A blizzard on the day before Valentine’s Day? I say that since we’re inside anyway, bring it on.

ganache-whisking ombre

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, February 6, 2014

chocolate hazelnut linzer hearts

chocolate hazelnut linzer hearts

I’m sorry. These are really, really cute. Borderline twee. And it gets worse, too. You see, there was a parent event at my son’s preschool this week that included a cookie swap and I hadn’t much considered what I would bring until my apparent reputation preceded me and the other parents started to ask with a tone that suggested they expected something grand. Oops. And so I enlisted what I’ve decided will be my strategy for all future cooking indecisions: What Would Alex Eat?*

well-toasted hazelnuts for best flavor
ground hazelnuts + dry ingredients

I’ve come to the conclusion after eight years of marriage that my husband simply orders better than the rest of us at restaurants (and, I mean obviously in life partners, right? …hello?). I’ll be pushing some kale salad and winter squash thing around my plate and he’ll be eating a garlic butter drenched surf-and-turf. I’ll have fallen for the insanely-too-rich egg-stuffed ravioli in cream sauce and he’ll be eating a pork chop with crackling shishitos. I suggest mushroom tacos; he suggests brisket. So, rather than go through my usual lines of cookie rationale — a gingersnap meets a snickerdoodle meets salted peanut brittle plus brown butter! — I instead tried to dream up the Perfect Alex Cookie, and it’s really no surprise that it required the purchase of a jar of Nutella.

fluffy hazelnut dough

Continued after the jump »


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