Friday, July 31, 2009

Egg in the Hole

Just wanted to post this in case you woke up tomorrow morning wanting brunch and realizing you have an empty fridge. With just 3 ingredients and a pan you can make something so darn satisfying that you might not even need lunch. So I hope you're reading this my little brother Tristan, because even you can make this!!

Egg in the Hole has quickly become our go-to breakfast on weekends when we want something hearty, easy and delicious. And I don't even like eggs- although this dish is slowly making me come around.

Start off by melting a couple tablespoons of butter in a skillet

Next add in your toast with a hole already cut out- Some use a biscuit cutter, i use a knife :P

After a couple minutes crack an egg right into the hole (this is oddly satisfying)

Wait for the egg to be almost opaque before flipping

Peeeeeerfect. But you know what just throws this over the edge?

Hello cheddar! Everything is better with cheese. Can I get an "Amen"!

There is no better breakfast/brunch/hungover-cure than an Egg in the Hole. So try it today- I promise you won't regret it.

Egg in the Hole
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 1 piece of bread
  • 1 egg
  • cheese (optional)
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cut a hole out of the middle of your bread and add both pieces to your skillet. Next crack the egg into the hole and let sit. When the egg is almost opaque flip the toast over. Cook a few more minutes and add cheese, tomatoes, salsa, or whatever else strikes your fancy!

Monday, July 27, 2009


The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Summer has been slipping by me and this was another "last minute" challenge- I was very lucky that it didn't turn out to be that challenging and let me tick off "Home Marshmallows" from my list of things to learn to do in the kitchen! So let's get started:

For ONCE I remembered to take two eggs out of the fridge in time to get them to room temperature!

Rolling out the cold dough- with a curious kitty nearby

I didn't want to pipe the marshmallow onto the cookies, so I needed to find a cutter that would be the same size as whatever mold I chose for the marshmallows. This shot glass did the trick-
Shot glass footprints in my dough

As mentioned, I didn't want to pipe the marshmallows onto the cookies, so i needed to find a mold. Some helpful bakers suggested spreading an inch or so of flour onto a cookie sheet and creating molds into the flour and I thought I would be a freaking genius and just use a mini cupcake pan as a mold instead. Once i filled the pan up I realized that the marshmallows probably won't just fall out of their molds... and they didn't- but it wasn't a complete failure- a spoon easily extracted the little buggers. Next time, I think some flour thrown into the molds first, would be perfect.
These didn't come out perfectly, but nothing a lot of chocolate glaze can't help!

And voila! The boyfriend was worried that they would be too small since the shot glass was cutting such small cookies, but i like my mallows with a whole lot of marshmallow so it worked out perfectly. Tasty stuff for sure!

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
by Gale Gand
  • 3 cups (375g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (115g) white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 12 tbsps (170g) unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, whisked together
  • homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
  • chocolate glaze, recipe follows

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy. Add the eggs and mix until combine. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours. If you want to decorate the mallows, sprinkle a topping on the glaze while it is still wet.
Makes about 4 dozen (using 2-inch cutter).

Homemade Marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup (85g)
  • light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup (170g) sugar
  • 1 tbsp powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsps cold water
  • 2 egg whites , room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage - 235°F on a candy thermometer (218°F at 8500 ft. above sea level). Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate Glaze
  • 12 oz. (340g) semisweet chocolate
  • 2 oz. (55g) cocoa butter or vegetable oil

Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

September 20th 2005

The train ride on the other hand, was quite an experience. I still think back on it as if it were a dream because it lasted from 9pm to 9am and I was half asleep most of the time anyway.
Six out of the seven of us were in one compartment that meant that we each had a bench on either the bottom, middle or top (my area) in a room the size of a closet. And although the filth was concerning, the fact that we got to lay down was amazing and make me like the train much more than the plane.
Just a blur of people

Most of the crew: Chris, Elise, Mallory, Me and Jen

September 20th 2005

Varanasi blows. It’s 87 degrees at night (as in right now). The power goes out for hours on end all the time (as in RIGHT NOW) and they have really loud generators that don’t generate any electricity (also going on right now). I am SO NOT HAPPY RIGHT NOW.

September 21st 2005
6:45am- All of my toiletries fell down the fucking crapper –everything- My toothpaste, my acedopholous- my hair brush- my toothbrush- and whatever else was in there that I can’t think of right now.
Yoga on the rooftop was pretty cool

Update- My new little friend Sonny, who is all of 4 years old, just cleared out the toilet ☹
Here is a letter that Mallory wrote to herself while sitting alone in a café for an hour and a half- Some of this are my thoughts as well:

“ To: Me
If you are reading this then you defy all odds & you actually finished asshole! As a check-in.. it is your 3rd day in Varanassi… your leaders do not like you- The Chris kid is a maybe- Girls hate (not Claire) you, you walk too slow. It is too fucking hot to function, you have no clean clothes and smell like a foot and you really want to go home and you would if you wouldn’t have to spend years living it down to your family and friends. Oh & you think you dreads.. yes 100% because-you-don’t-brush-your-hair-dreads. I could pun up this paper about how you “dread” the next day but- I won’t . You’re currently sitting alone in a cafe, writing this because you have NO friends (except Vibhu but he’s most likely playing soduku) you didn’t go home. You deserve- what would be the biggest reward right now? A hug? A haircut? Clean clothes? Shower
Love, yourself. "

From: Claire
Subject: Email from a dirty river

Hello again!
Let me just tell everyone how much i love getting your emails, it makes me feel like I didnt just drop off the side of the world (even though it may be the case).
I arrived in Varanasi yesterday morning after a 12 hour train ride which was something out of a book. I dont even know where to begin explaining it and I dont think i could ever really do it justice through email. Let just say that I spent a lot of time with my head near a 60 year old HORRIBLY dirty ceiling. And it was still better than the plane, if only because you can at least close your eyes and pretend to be home. One of my fellow travellers was accosted by 4 indian transvestites who decided to flash him while everyone else was sleeping. He was not a happy camper.

Varanasi is a lot better than Delhi was. It feels more like a smaller town. If Delhi is New York, than Varanasi might be... Vienna. We are going to be here for 2 weeks and we started our internships today. I had signed up for jewelry making, which already sounded cool, but I quickly discovered that I'm actually going to be doing silverworking. I GET TO USE A SOLDERING IRON AGAIN!!!! Needless to say; i'm a bit excited. This morning we had our first Yoga class on the roof of the guest house and that was pretty cool too - and believe it or not : Im above average flexible : ) !!! And then we had a hindi class which just blew me away. Learning to write in sanskrit is like learning to write in code. It is so cool. I'm just having a really hard time hearing the difference between 'dah,' 'da' and 'da' with an accent.... every letter here has it's 'h' equivalent: they have ga and then gha, bah and bha... its a little confusing.

BUt the real fun was this morning. Let me begin this story by explaining that every toilet we have encountered since leaving delhi has been a turkish toilet. this means that its a hole in the ground that you sqwat over. Well, this morning, after brushing my teeth over the turkish toilet with my bottled water (please pause and try to imagine doing this as it is very odd already) I put my toiletry bag on the ledge and ran out to wake up the others. As I reached the door I heard something fall and then make a "splash noise". I go back to the "bathroom" to find my toiletry bag in the crapper. And I OBVIOUSLY hadnt zipped it up, so when it fell, all the contents fell in first. Which meant that my toothbrush, toothpaste, brush and other things were now floating in shit. All i managed to save was my deodorant. I was a sad panda.

Well, its about 4:30 pm and I meet my homestay family at 5, so I need to run to pack up all my stuff (minus my toiletry bag)

Once I settle into my new home, I will have more time and will be able to write personal emails instead of these mass ones.
UNtil then,
Much Love,
From: Claire
To: Brother

My camera has been on the fritz lately, but Im hoping to get some pictures from my buddy's digital camera and send that to you before I leave for Bodghaya on Tuesday

And just one quick note:
They bicycle rickshaw here and they nicer ones usually have a cool design on the back, usually a lotus flower, with two hands reaching for it, sometimes two elephants or peacocks- well on our way here I saw one that had two llamas on the back and freaked out! i tried to get my camera out but it was gone too quickly. Anyway,. this was a week ago and Ive been looking for it ever since abnd yesterday I saw FOUR!!! I took as a sign that you were saying hello.

Love you,

Say hello to Julienne Fries for me :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Menu du 14 Juillet

I am home visiting the parents this week and it so happened that I would be here for "Le 14 Juillet" or Bastille Day as non-french folk may call it. As I am never one to pass up the opportunity for a fĂȘte, I went to work planning a menu for our little 14th of July festivities.

Last year, the 14th was spent in France

As far as my family is concerned, a french meal always starts with an aperitif which is an alcoholic drink meant to stimulate the palate. This is usually served with nibbles, (nothing much fancier than crisps, saucisson and olives) and can last for hours. As this would be a small affair, we choose one cocktail pour tous, the French 75 with a twist. Named for the 75mm canon of WWII, this cocktail sure did pack a punch. To sweeten the drink and make it a little more patriotic, we added about 2 tblsp of cherry syrup left over from our ice cream adventures of last weekend.

My mom makes a mean mussel dish and there is nothing more french than Moules Frites. I was unfortunately a little under the weather and didn't manage to make the Frites portion, but linguine was a perfect substitution. My mom's trusty recipe comes from Charlie Palmer's restaurant Aureole.

And for the "kids" (read: me and my brother of the anti seafood persuasion) we made a truly phenomenal roast chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

Every good french meal should end with a simple salad and this Tomato and Mozzarella salad was perfect. Using yellow and red tomatoes from the farmer's market and basil from the garden, I could have eaten the entire platter myself.

I had been itching to bake something in my parent's new oven and we settled on a version of the Perfect Party Cake using my Uncle's homemade Limoncello as a soaking syrup for the cake layers and coating the whole thing with toasted coconut.

It just screams: "Vive la France!"

Saturday, July 11, 2009

And I Don't Even Really Like Cherries

When my mom and I where given the task of providing desert for our 4th of July celebration down on the farm, we thought long and hard. I was set on making some sort of ice cream. Whether it made it to the farm or not, I didn't really care. So we settled on that American staple: chocolate chip cookies and for the ice cream we decided to use the cherries we already had on hand and ended up with Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice cream from David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop. And it. was. delicious.
It did take the better part of a day to complete this 3 part ice cream but with two people in the kitchen and some planning, we had a blast making it and it was TOTALLY worth the effort.
SO let's get started in the order we did it:

Start by washing some cherries to make the candied cherries

Next you have to pit the suckers and as my family only ever eats cherries straight from the bowl, we didn't have a pitter. The internet came to the rescue by suggesting hammering a nail into a board and pitting the cherries onto the nail.

And it worked like a charm- even if it did look a bit like a massacre...

Then throw the cherries into a pot with some sugar and water to boil on low heat for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread some almond on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven

Look at them cherries go!

Here we skip a couple steps in terms of pictures, but essentially you are going to heat up some milk and cream, then beat some eggs and mix the two together to make a CUSTARD! yum!

Can't forget to chop up the now toasted almonds.

Keep mixing the custard over low heat until it's thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.

Then you want to strain it into a bowl and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Once the mixture is cool, put it in your ice cream machine! As it churns add in the other half of your chopped almonds.

And finally, once you take the ice cream out of the machine, gently fold in the strained candied cherries.

Put the batch into your freezer to firm up then enjoy!

And this is the best I could do before the whole batch was gobbled up. Truly delicious.

Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream
From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Make about 1 1/2 quarts

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup well drained Candied Cherries (recipe below), coarsely chopped

Warm the milk, sugar, salt and 1 cup of the cream in a medium sauce-pan. Finely chop 1 cup of the almonds and add them to the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Strain the almond-infused milk into a separate medium saucepan. Press with a spatula or squeeze with your hands to extract as much flavor from the almonds as possible. Discard the almonds.

Rewarm the almond-infused milk. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whsk together the egg yolks. Slowly warm mixture into the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir in the almond extract and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to directions. During the last few minutes of the churning, add the remaining 1 cup of chopped almonds. When you remove the ice cream from the machine, fold in the chopped cherries.

Candied Cherries
From the Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Makes about 2 Cups

1 pound cherries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 drop almond extract

Remove the stems and pit the cherries. Heat the cherries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a large, nonreactive saucepan or skillet until the liquid starts to boil.

Turn down the heat to a low boil ad cook the cherries for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking t make sure they are cooking evenly and not sticking.

Once the syrup is reduced to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the the heat, add the almond extract, and let the cherries cool in their syrup.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Anna's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just like my best friend Ashley brought her mother's Sesame Pasta Chicken Salad recipe to college, my other roommate and best friend Anna brought these delicious cookies. The last time I made them, the boyfriend declared them "maybe the best chocolate chip cookie" he has ever had. And that is no joke considering his cousin Amber has quite a reputation for cookie making. The secret? chunky salt to bring out the chocolatey-ness.

I made these with my mom last weekend for 4th of July and although this batch came out quite flat, they are usually quite chunky.

Start by creaming the crisco, eggs and white sugar. Then add in the rest of your ingredients, like flour.

Chocolate chips

and oatmeal.

Because we were making these in my mom's nifty kitchen, we used her specially reserved ice cream scoop to make identically sized cookies.

See? perfect!

Bake for about 10 minutes but don't overcook them! They don't actually look done when they are- just make sure they aren't still jiggling

And try to eat them outdoors- from a recycled Christmas cookie tin.

Anna's Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar

Combine all in a bowl and cream it together.

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes