February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday

You might think quite rightly that I've gone off the deep end lately with the bacon ice cream, cupcake binge-fest, and Reese's for dinner. But wait till you see what I had for a midnight snack:

Maple Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

Sunday I made Emeril's recipe for Maple Ice Cream with Candied Walnuts and Nutty Chocolate Sauce. You start with a cup of maple syrup, reduce it, add cream and milk, whisk in some tempered eggs, a pinch of salt and vanilla, chill and then churn. The walnuts are candied in dark brown sugar. After the ice cream is set, fold in the walnuts, some chocolate chips, and shredded coconut. For the chocolate sauce, pour a half cup of heated heavy cream over 4 oz. of chopped semisweet chocolate, and add a teaspoon of Frangelico. Scoop ice cream into waffle cones and drizzle with nutty chocolate sauce. Serve at midnight. Or whenever.

That's the kind of debauchery that I get into on Mardi Gras. My diet starts tomorrow, right?

Pancake Day is another Fat Tuesday tradition I could get into. The custom of making pancakes on Fat Tuesday originated because it's a good way to use up dairy and eggs before Lent starts and fun (food) is banned. I went to the Lions Club Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, and did my part to eat the record-setting pancakes. I also brought my own condiments. They only supply you with squeeze bottle margarine and generic Aunt Jemima, and that just won't do when you're trying to pack away a short stack.

Lions Club Pancake Breakfast

February 23, 2009

They're real, and they're spectacular

It is hard work being in a long-distance relationship, what with Chet wanting to break up all the time, telling me about his dates with other girls, saying our relationship will only work if I send him lunch money, and then this conversation: "Today I had these Reese's Cupcakes. They were soooo good. Chocolate cupcakes with Reese's cups in the cupcake, plus peanut butter frosting and a Reese's cup on top. They were the best cupcakes I have EVER had! Have you mailed me the check for this month?"

The best cupcakes ever. What statement could be more insulting? My baking is pretty much the only thing I have going for me, and these cupcakes sounded a bit too perfect. Better than mine? I started quizzing Chet: Did the frosting have real butter, not shortening? How was the cake to frosting ratio? Yada yada yada. He identified Eleni's Rivington cupcake as the offender. I checked out the specs of the cupcake on their site, hence my own peanut butter cup cupcake trials last month.

Last weekend I got the opportunity to try out these cupcakes for myself. I went to the Chelsea Market - a great place for a foodie to find herself - which is home to multiple bakeries, eateries, and the Food Network offices. Everything in the Eleni's store was very cute. There is no photography allowed in the store; I assume that is a testament to the cutthroat competition between all the New York City bakeries.

There were so many cute cupcakes on display. I might have gone a little bit overboard by buying twelve cupcakes. I bought a couple of the Rivington (Reese's); and the George (Oreo), a "brownie cupcake with marshmallow and cookie crunch, topped with vanilla buttercream and an Oreo cookie;" and the German Chocolate; and the Peanut Butter & Jelly; and some of the Obama variety, which is chocolate, of course; plus a couple of chocolate with chocolate ganache variations. It was embarrassing to be in possession of that many cupcakes, but they looked so delicious that I wanted to try them all.

I guess I don't have to tell you again that these cupcakes were beautiful. I sat down and halved one of the cupcakes. My observations were that first of all, I was pretty sure it wasn't a Reese's cup on top of the cupcake. I am ashamed to admit that I'm somewhat of a Reese's expert. Sometimes I eat the things by the handful for dinner. Anyway, this pb cup was shorter and wider and the pb filling was softer and more golden. There was more than one pb cup inside the cupcake. The cupcake smelled buttery and chocolatey, had a perfect crumb, and was very moist. The frosting was perfectly proportioned and had great peanut butter flavor, wasn't too sweet and didn't taste like cream cheese. Eating half a cupcake and chasing it down with some milk was enough to make me feel completely satisfied.

That was the best cupcake I've ever eaten. I still have delusions of perfecting my own recipe and beating them at their 'A' game. Any volunteers to taste the samples? I like constructive criticism.

February 9, 2009

Magic Pan

If Super Bowl Sunday was Man Food Day, the Sunday that succeeded it needed to be the complete opposite. I tried to decide what that menu would include, probably anything that you'd eat at a baby shower: chicken salad sandwiches, vegetables, fondue, quiche perhaps, pound cake. Wussy womyn food! I toyed around with a few ideas but ended up serving crêpes. I probably made 40 crêpes by the end of the night.

Appetizer: cream cheese filling topped with Hot Pepper Peach Preserves.


Vegetable: spinach and fontina cheese filling, plus a dollop of crème fraîche.

Spinach and Fontina Crêpe

First main: prosciutto and provolone cheese filling. Second main: shrimp, crab, cream cheese, and swiss cheese filling.

Prosciutto and Provolone Crêpe Seafood Crêpe

Dessert: Nutella hazelnut spread filling, with macerated strawberries and coconut flavored whipped cream.

Dessert Crêpe

My favorite was the cream cheese and jelly, followed closely by the Nutella crêpe. To me, the only real loser was the seafood crêpe. I bought cooked shrimp and crab legs for the filling, and the meat tasted flavorless and rubbery. It needed some bechamel sauce or something to kick up the flavor. Insert a crappy crêpe joke if you like.

There's no crying in football

Last week for Super Bowl Sunday, I wanted to plan a meal that would celebrate man food. Mom was out of town, so I knew I could put myself in charge of feeding at least Dad and Brother. I needed a menu with lots of bacon and beef and potatoes. This was not the time for anything wimpy. I needed to channel some Paula Deen craziness. I'll admit that I'm afraid of her. I feel like she would be happy to eat my soul with a Krispy Kreme donut and a chaser of bacon grease.

I was excited about the menu. I started cooking. Katie and Porter came over. Dad still hadn't arrived. He told me he'd be there, so I asked Katie to call and make sure he was on the way. Some conversation, and then I heard Katie say, "You're going to back out?" so I made her give me the phone.
"Daddy, where are you?" I asked.

"Oh, I decided I'm going to stay where I'm at."

"What? But Dad I just talked to you, and you said you were going to come over."

"Well, I think I'd better stay where I'm at."

Then I started to cry because I was sincerely upset. "Dad, I've been cooking and I bought you a steak and..." I sounded like one of those 1950s domestic goddess types that made a four course candlelight dinner and got mad when her man didn't call to say he'd be late.

Dad laughed a little. "I guess I'll wiggle my ears and be there in three seconds. I'm in front of your house right now. That's why I said I would stay where I'm at." He explained that he told Katie he was going to back out when he was backing out of the driveway.
It's confirmed. I'm a maniac in the kitchen. I have a domestic goddess delusion. But it's hard to beat this menu:

Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Maple Syrup Dressing
Grilled Filet of Beef with Bacon and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes
Candied Bacon Ice Cream

Super Bowl Sunday food

The salad was my favorite part of the meal. It was amazing! Mesclun lettuces, rye bread croutons cooked in goat cheese and olive oil, seasoned squash, maple syrup dressing, bacon on top. How could that be bad?

Super Bowl Sunday food Super Bowl Sunday food

I used my standard salt, pepper, cumin rub for the steaks. I intended to do a blue cheese glacage, but I ran short on time, so I decided to eliminate some stress by just topping the hot steaks with blue cheese crumbles and scallions. Sorry, the picture makes the steak look grey and overcooked, but they were actually very good.

Candied Bacon Ice Cream

I was hoping the pièce de résistance would be the bacon ice cream. I know what you're thinking, "Kimberly, you are out of your crazy mind." I thought it would be fun to try it, even if we never wanted it again. The first thing you do is candy the bacon by coating strips of bacon in brown sugar and baking them. The ice cream base has salted butter, brown sugar, milk/cream, egg yolks, flavorings, and the option of adding cinnamon. Different from any ice cream base I've made before. It tasted like BlueBell's Cinnamon ice cream - dark, not too sweet. I don't think I'll soon make it again. There are still leftovers, and that's not a good sign for any recipe, especially ice cream!

Candied Bacon Ice CreamAll in all, Man Food Day was fun. I'm sure it was bad karma for me to cry on Super Bowl Sunday. That privilege is only reserved for the victors of the game, which we missed because I made everyone eat at the table with the television off. Priorities, people!