July 27, 2010

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

When viewing my life as though it were an Aesop's fable, I tended to skew more towards Hare than Tortoise.  I was always in such a rush- hurry up and graduate, get out into the work force, apply to grad school, then move to LA.  I was on the fast track but after 10 years had passed in what felt like 10 minutes I still hadn't reached the finish line, much less had any idea where or what it was.  That's when I knew I needed to slow down and reevaluate exactly where I was headed on this race- to start looking at it more like a marathon, less like a sprint.   Once I took a breather, I could really focus on what was right in front of me, this culinary passion I didn't even know I had, but instead of jumping in the fast lane I'm taking it slow.  
Today was my maiden voyage to Restaurant Depot (where restaurants shop!) which felt like a big step to me.  Do I really need a 2 pound bag of flour right now?  No, but I might someday and that in itself is pretty darn exciting.  So what if I only bought 2 bowls and a thermometer?  Baby steps.
This week's TWD,  Chewy Chunky Blondies are so chock full of mix-ins a Restaurant Depot card just might come in handy.  Made with giant chunks of bittersweet chocolate, coconut and pecans, they are great just out of the oven but even better the next day.  So whether you're a tortoise or a hare, it's a win-win situation.

July 13, 2010

Black Magic Bourbon Brrrownies

I'm not sure if it was the beignets, the Mighty Mississippi, or a little voodoo magic but New Orleans definitely has me in it's spell.   Days after returning home I'm continue to be enchanted by that amazing place- a feeling that followed me into the kitchen for this week's TWD, Brrrr-ownies.
I was all set to make these peppermint patty filled brownies but the siren call for a Mint Julep inspired version could not be ignored.
Using the original recipe as the base, I used 1/4 tsp of vanilla and 1/4 of peppermint extract (very strong, I think 1/8 teaspoon would suffice) then added 1 tablespoon of Michter's Single Barrel Bourbon.  I topped them with Bourbon Creme Anglaise and candied pecans.

Now that's Southern charm.

Bourbon Creme Anglaise
adapted from NOLA.com

1 cup 2% milk
1 cup half & half
5 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Scald the milk and cream in a saucepan.
 Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until pale and slightly thickened. Gradually pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
Transfer back to the saucepan and stir over very low heat with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, without boiling until the sauce coats the back of the spoon.  Stir in the bourbon.
Serve warm or chilled.

July 9, 2010

And Then Foie Gras Went Up My Nose

I've been fortunate to experience a few incredible meals in my life and have been known to wax poetic about a particular ingredient or chef, but if food loving became a religion New Orleans would surely be a contender for Culinary Vatican.  Never have a uttered the words, "this is the best thing I ever ate," so often in such a period of time.  And at every meal.

Piping hot, sugary beignets and chickory coffee.  Cafe Du Monde is legendary for a reason.

Restaurant Stella! calls this A Composition of Heirloom Carrots.  Carrot salad, confit, foam, sorbet and gelee with carrot cake crumbles.  Step right up to the Carrot Carnival.

I can't remember what kind of fish this was.  It was locally caught, smothered in a crawfish and spice tomato-y sauce. Commander's Palace...believe the hype.

Bread Pudding Souffle.  It may look innocent, but it's like the ninja of desserts.  You are powerless against it.

Ducking out of the heat of the day into a cafe for barbeque shrimp with garlic bread.  Late night po' boys after listening to a bonefide Lousiana brass band.  A meal at Restaurant August that left us breathless- peaches and pork belly, need I say more.