March 28, 2010

Pithy Comments

I came home with lemon curd and meringue in my hair. As you can imagine, it was my kind of party. This one involved making lemon meringue cupcakes with my friend Catherine and her two young daughters, Hannah and Eve. We used Martha Stewart's recipe.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

It was fun to cook with Hannah. We juiced and zested lemons together. I always like to ask Hannah questions. I had told her about zest of a fruit, how it's the colored part. Later I asked her about it again, "What was that stuff called? It started with a Z." She said, "Zebra?" I would hold Eve up high so she could see what was happening, too. After dinner, Hannah had ice cream for dessert. I asked Hannah, "How would you describe ice cream to someone who had never tasted it? What would you say to them?" She thought for a moment and simply said, "I would say, try it!" So pretty much kids always outsmart me.

I love those girls. After making cupcakes, I stayed to eat dinner with them. I brought a Panna Cotta covered with strawberries for dessert.

Panna Cotta with Strawberries

Strawberries are Hannah's favorite!

March 23, 2010

Almond Croissant

Behold, ye almond croissant.

Almond Croissant

Here's the simple recipe from Epicurious: Twice-Baked Almond Croissants. Start with day old croissants. At United, four smallish-sized croissants cost $4.99. At that price, I might have to start making my own, no matter how laborious the process. The recipe gives instructions for an orange-vanilla syrup and an almond filling, made of butter, sugar, almonds, almond paste, and egg.

Almond Croissant

Four steps to assembling the croissants for baking:
1. Slice croissants in half lengthwise.
2. Brush vanilla-orange syrup on both halves of croissants.
3. Spread almond filling on one half of each croissant, mounding filling high in the middle.
4. Spread filling on top of croissant, and press toasted almonds into filling.

Almond Croissant

I might have eaten one for dinner alongside strawberries and salted caramel hot chocolate. That soft almond filling oozes out on the first bite. Yum!

Almond Croissant

March 11, 2010

Lenten Lunch

A few Fridays ago, I ate lunch with two of my favorite coworkers, who are truthfully two of my favorite people period. We ate a meat-free meal of fruit and cheese sandwiches and salad, but I heard no cries of "Where's the beef?"

We had Brie Peach Sandwiches, which had both fresh peaches and peach preserves. I may have gone a little overboard in my jelly shopping.

Peach Preserves

I conducted a purely unscientific taste test of the preserves to see which I preferred, and I could not choose between the Peach Bonnet Jelly and the Hot Pepper Peach Preserves. Each had their own strengths. Their only weakness in my eyes was that each jar cost over $5. In the end, I used the preserves for the Brie Peach sandwich, because I liked the texture the peach pieces lent.

Brie Peach Sandwich

The Brie Peach Sandwiches consisted of sliced brie; a mixture of peach preserves, fresh peaches, green onion, raspberry vinegar, and pepper; spread along with mayonnaise on oatmeal bread.

Pear and Brie Sandwich

We tried a pear and brie panini inspired by this Chowhound post, too. This sandwich had brie, sliced pears, arugula mayonnaise pesto, and candied walnuts on country french bread, toasted in my grill pan. I modified an Emeril recipe for arugula pesto, substituting arugula for the basil.

We also ate a salad of mixed lettuces, with a Maple Syrup Dressing. With meals like that, I could definitely be a vegetarian, if I didn't love meat so much.

March 7, 2010

Eliane French Bakery

One of the chief impediments to my happiness in Lubbock is the lack of a really great bakery in this town. We are limited to grocery bakeries, donut shops, cupcakeries, and a couple of other pretenders. Ideally, we would have a little French bakery where I could grab a croissant in the mornings before taking the subway to work. But we have neither the subway nor the bakery.

When I was in Provo, I visited a wonderful bakery, Eliane French Bakery, for breakfast. They don't have a website that I know of. I imagine that it's because they don't speak English very well and that's how authentic the French bakery is. But I imagine a lot of things. I'm a romantic.

Pain au chocolat

Wendy and I sampled a few things. First, the pain au chocolat, which was amazing, and second, the croque-monsieur, which was equally amazing.

Croque Monsieur

A croque-monsieur is a ham sandwich with cheese. Typically the sandwich is covered in a Mornay sauce and grilled or broiled. When I made a croque-madame, a croque-monsieur with a fried egg on top, I made the Mornay with Gruyere. The croque at Eliane's had cheese on top, but not in a thick sauce, and the cheese was melted but a little crunchy. Magnifique.

We saved the best for last. The best was an almond croissant. The almond croissant at Choice Market in Brooklyn was among the best food I ate in New York. However, Eliane's had it beat.

Almond Croissant

Almond Croissant

Almond croissants are similar to regular croissants, but they have an almond filling and are usually covered in toasted almonds and powdered sugar. Here's a recipe for them that I intend to try soon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I bought the croissant to take back to Mom, who elected not to go to the bakery with Wendy and me. You know what they say about the best laid plans. I thought I could take one bite and stop, and Mom wouldn't mind if I tried her croissant. However, one bite of the croissant with its creamy almond filing, and I was hooked. I corrupted Wendy with it, too. Then I started rationalizing: "Mom won't know we were going to bring her this," and "Well, Mom could have come with us." By the time I'd finished rationalizing and eating, there was only half a croissant left. Sorry, Mom, I know you raised us better.

March 4, 2010

Blue Sky Smiling at Me

A new burger place called Blue Sky opened at 98th & Quaker a few weeks ago. The first time I ate there, I had to park across the street, because the parking lot was filled to overflowing. Lubbock may not support the arts, but beef is a different matter.

Blue Sky Bacon Cheeseburger

I tried their green chile cheeseburger, and it was fabulous. The green chiles do come on the side in a cup, not pre-slathered on the patty, but I was okay with that. The burger is very big, and the bun is fresh and soft, so this is definitely a burger you have to hold with both hands. I also tried their onion rings and fried chile sticks (fried anaheim peppers), which were completely new to me. I thought the fried chile sticks would taste good on a burger, so I had to try it, and I can confirm that they are in fact as good on the burger as on the side.

Blue Sky started in Amarillo and expanded to Lubbock. The Lubbock location has a mural on the wall of the Lubbock skyline and cotton strippers, which of course made me feel right at home. I'm digging that there are decent restaurants opening on 98th St, because previously the selection was limited to 7-11 convenience stores, and I hit my lifetime quota of Twinkies in the 80s.