Monday, February 10, 2014

A few days of food in New Orleans

Lester and I had a lovely trip! Less zydeco than I expected, but way more other amazingness. The highlights were easily Surrey's for breakfast, Rum House for happy hour, Bywater neighborhood for exploring, Cure for cocktails, and cruiser bikes for getting around. Thanks so much to Chris H for all the recommendations!
  • Three delicious, large, cheap breakfasts at Surrey's—every single thing hit the spot
  • Coffee at Velvet and quiche at Ps & Qs before exploring Audubon Park
  • Night out in the French Quarter: great beer selection at d.b.a., "African jambalaya" at Bennachin, and jazz and second-hand smoke at Spotted Cat Music Club
  • The requisite beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde
  • Picnic of a surprisingly good poboy from Frady's and surprisingly mediocre pizza from Pizza Delicious while biking around Marigny/Bywater
  • Coffee at Solo before exploring the Lower Ninth Ward levee
  • Laid-back appetizers, wine, jazz, and crosswording in the backyard at Bacchanal
  • Drinks and good times with Robin & friends at Cane and Table
  • Crazy delicious tacos and margaritas at Rum House
  • Chilling with Abita and Olympics TV at Rendezvous Tavern
  • Pretty ok gumbo, deliciously greasy gator sausage, and bourbon bread pudding at Ignatius
  • Splendid late-night cocktails at Cure that deserved every bit of John's praise

Monday, December 23, 2013


Happy holidays! We're in Minneapolis for Christmas, where Norwegians eat creamy potatoes three meals a day and freeze their bums off and everyone has a lovely time. Today's installment of creamy potatoes is lefse, a crepe-like pancake that's rolled out with a special textured rolling pin. The recipe is Grandma's, and, as befits a Grandma recipe, is more specific about the texture than about the amounts of each ingredient. You'll figure it out :)

3-4 lb floury potatoes (eg russet)
1 t salt
~1/2 c cream
~3/4 stick butter
~2 3/4 c flour

Peel, boil, and mash the potatoes. Beat in the salt, cream, and butter until it's smooth, thick, and malleable, like good frosting (adding cream and butter as needed). Let cool for a couple hours on a 0F Minnesota porch. Measure how much mashed potatoes you have (we had 5 1/2 cups), and stir in half that volume of flour until it's mostly incorporated. Let it sit for a few minutes to finish hydrating, and knead gently to form a smooth workable ball that's neither dry nor sticky. Divide into 2" balls (we got 23 balls).

Preheat a large dry griddle to 450F and prepare a work surface (preferably a pastry cloth) with plenty of flour. Roll each ball into a 9-10" circle with a floured lefse rolling pin. Carefully slide the wooden lefse turner under the center axis of the lefse, lift it up, and transfer it to the griddle (pictured above). Cook on each side until freckled with light brown spots (pictured below), smacking it with the lefse turner if it bubbles up (that part is just for fun, just ask Lester).

Store cooked lefse between sheets of wax paper between towels. To eat, spread with butter, sprinkle with sugar, squeeze on a little lemon if you're feeling adventurous, roll it up, and enjoy.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mushroom etoufee

Happy Thanksgiving, happy Hanukkah, happy anything else you're happy about! Cajun/creole food is something I'm happy about right now—I'm totally going to take a post-graduation vacation to New Orleans!—so instead of mushroom gravy I decided to make a mushroom etoufee for Thanksgiving this year. The internet doesn't seem to have much consensus on what makes an etoufee an etoufee, so I went with a variation on this recipe. It turned out amazingly: savory and rich, with a good balance of creaminess, zing, and kick. You're supposed to have it with rice but I think it will be splendid with stuffing.

2 T butter
2 small onions, minced
4 stalks celery, minced
1 green pepper, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
20 oz criminis, coarsely chopped
1 oz dried fancy mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t paprika
2 t cornstarch
1 stock cube
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 c cream
1/2 c 1% milk
5 oz spinach, chopped
4 sprigs parsley, minced

Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large pot. Sweat the onions until translucent, then add the celery, green pepper, garlic, and bay leaves, and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms, cayenne, and paprika, and cook until the mushrooms are done. Add the cornstarch and stock cube and stir until dissolved, then add the tomatoes and dairy. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, turn the heat down a bit, and simmer for at least 15 minutes. Add the greenery and keep simmering for at least half an hour. Adjust the seasonings and liquid, and serve over a mushy absorbent starch.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brownie bites

Just doing what Deb tells me to, procrastinating from finishing my thesis by making easy delicious easily-transportable brownies. Procrastination or not, the thesis and therefore my graduate career will be wrapping up extremely soon, and I'm looking forward to a higher frequency of food creation extravaganzas—expect more posts soon!

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick butter
1 1/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
2/3 c flour

Preheat oven to 350F and spray-grease a mini cupcake pan. In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate and butter together in a double-boiler or in a couple 30-sec spurts in the microwave. Whisk in the sugar, then eggs and vanilla, then salt and flour. Fill the mini cupcake tins almost full; there will probably be a little bit extra batter after filling 24 mini cupcake wells, which can go in a second pan if you have one, or 2 wells of a regular cupcake pan, or whatever. Bake the mini brownies for 15-17 min, larger brownies for longer, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 min in the pan, then transfer the brownies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Persimmon pancakes

It's persimmon time again! I made a double batch of persimmon bread last week and that recipe is still amazing. This morning I tried this pancake recipe, which is tasty but not as thick and fluffy as I prefer. Next time I might try this one.

3 T melted butter
pulp from 1 Hachiya persimmon
1/4 c yogurt
1 c milk
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 c oat bran (or oats ground in the food processor)
1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
2 t brown sugar
1/4 t salt

Separately whisk together wet ingredients (butter through vanilla) and dry ingredients (oats through salt) then whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Let sit for a few minutes while the pan heats up and the batter thickens (it will still be runny). Cook pancakes with 1/4 c worth of batter each.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tomato jam

Welcome back from England, me! My usual travel post will be up soon, but there were more urgent garden matters that demanded my attention first. Just look at all those tomatoes I picked! (And that's only about half of the cherry tomatoes.)

Six pounds of ripe garden tomatoes in the cupboard, with more on the way, and with Lester stuck in England and unable to enjoy the fruits of his labor... It's preserving time. At first taste, this jam is a bit too sweet, but the aftertaste is balanced and nicely spicy. I'd add a bit less sugar next time.

1.5 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb regular tomatoes, diced
1 1/4 c sugar
juice + zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 T red wine vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
1 pasilla pepper, finely minced
1" ginger chunk, grated
1/2 t salt

Put everything in a pot and simmer uncovered for a bit more than an hour, stirring occasionally and squishing up any intact tomato bits, until the water has cooked off and the mixture is thick and spreadable (it won't set up much more in the jars). Transfer to 3 cups worth of sterilized jars.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blackberry almond muffins

It's blackberry season again, and I still have frozen blackberries from last summer! Gotta step up my game. I haven't really been slacking though—in the last few weeks I've been busy making other summery things (like okra+shishitos and shakshuka), and other sweet things (like chocolate chip cookies), and other awesome things (like apps and more apps). And tomorrow, Lester and I are heading to England for a couple weeks, so you can look forward to some good British travel posts in the near future.

But this morning: just some quick and easy muffins. Tau approves.

1.5 c frozen blackberries
1/2 stick butter
1/3 c sugar
1 egg
3/4 c milk
juice of 1 large Meyer lemon
1.5 c flour
1/2 c oats
1/2 c slivered almonds
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350F and put the berries in a colander to defrost and drain a bit. Melt the butter in a 2-c pyrex, then stir in the rest of the wet ingredients (sugar through lemon). Combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl, then stir in the wet ingredients and berries until just combined. Scoop into 12 greased muffin-tin cups and sprinkle a healthy pinch of turbinado on each one. Bake for 25 min until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are starting to brown. (If your berries aren't frozen, the baking time will be up to 10 min shorter.) Transfer to a cooling rack, let cool until the berries won't burn your mouth, and enjoy.