WHAT IS THAT? IS THAT AN iPAD?
DAMN IT, CAROL, THAT’S NOT VERY RUSTIC. I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO BE TOTALLY RUSTIC IN 2012. WASN’T THAT THE DEAL? YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE AT THE FARMER’S MARKET BRINGING HOME HEIRLOOM TOMATOES WRAPPED CAREFULLY IN CHEESECLOTH, AND SPINACH WITH LITTLE BUGS IN IT. WHERE DID YOU EVEN FIND AN APPLE STORE?
… MAYBE IF WE GLUE WOOD TO IT, LIKE A FRAME OR SOMETHING, WE CAN KEEP IT NEAR THE HEARTH SOMEWHERE.
I was in the middle of making a batch of Mallow cookies when the realization kind of hit me.
I no longer loathe marshmallows.
For many, this wouldn’t be quite a significant moment. For me, it actually was.
Marshmallows and I had an understanding, you see. I would tolerate them enough to let them swim around in, and thicken up, my Swiss Miss but, otherwise, I didn’t want to see their weird cork shaped bodies. Peeps were given away, out of disgust, at Easter time and Fluffernutters were just not a part of my childhood. Rocky Road was never as appealing as Mint Chocolate Chip in the summer. I was so ambivalent about them that I would even wrinkle my nose at a perfectly toasted campfire marshmallow on a stick. My first S’mores, to my recollection, was had just a few years ago when my sister and nephews came to visit.
My aversion was always a combination of flavor (too sugary) and texture (too spongy). Outside of creating a sugar raft in my hot chocolate their only other purpose, I thought, was to bind together a batch of Rice Krispie treats. They were the bastard, underdeveloped cousin to my beloved nougat and I avoided them, or anything with them, whenever I could.
Then, sometime over the past 8 1/2 years of living in Maine, I stopped detesting them so much (That is not to say that I have openly accepted Peeps into my life, though, because I haven’t. That is one sugary confection I don’t quite get). I can’t quite say that I ever imagined that I would embrace them, let alone be standing in the kitchen pouring boiling, gelatinous simple syrup into a bowl of whipped egg whites. But, there’s something slightly satisfying when you realize that you’ve grown into liking foods that you had such a loathing of when you were younger.
So, here is to the marshmallow and our new understanding of one another.
For the Cookies:
3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
3 eggs, whisked together
For the marshmallows:
1/4 cup (60ml) water
1/4 cup (60ml) light corn syrup
3/4 cup (170 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites, room temperature
1 whole vanilla bean, split open and seeded
For the chocolate glaze:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil
Prepare the cookies:
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 degrees F. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches 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.
Prepare the marshmallows:
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. 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 seeds and continue whipping until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag.
Prepare the chocolate glaze:
Melt the chocolate and shortening together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.
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 warm 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.
Sunday is, without question, my favorite day of the week. It is a predominantly lazy day in our house, with a mild dose of productivity (there is usually laundry and a bit of cleaning to do, which then turns into mindless tv watching sometime after 2pm). But, what truly makes it my favorite is the fact that it’s the one day off a week that The Missus and I have together. I cherish it. Depending on our moods, and our disposable income, we switch back and forth between going out to our usual haunts for brunch and me cooking up an indulgent meal at home. This week we stayed in and I cooked up a savory stack of pancakes that I came across on Pinterest. (Can we just acknowledge that Pinterest is going to make us all ridiculously fat? Because it is.)
Bacon and Corn Griddle Cakes
from Recipe Girl
8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
warm maple syrup, for serving
1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon pieces until they begin to brown. Add the onion and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is softened. Scoop out a heaping tablespoon of the bacon mixture for topping the griddle cakes upon serving- and set it aside.
2. While the bacon is cooking, combine the flour, chives, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the milk, egg and oil, just until moistened. Stir in the bacon mixture, corn and cheese. The mixture will be thick. If you’d like the griddle cakes to be slightly thinner than those pictured, add a little more milk to thin out the batter.
3. Heat and grease a griddle or large skillet. Pour a heaping 1/4-cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook until it is golden brown- 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
4. Serve stacks of griddle cakes topped with a sprinkle of the reserved bacon/onion and a good dose of warm maple syrup.
I used buttermilk in place of the regular milk and some Dinosaur BBQ ‘Foreplay‘ spice mix instead of the cayenne. The cakes were wonderfully fluffy and filling, with sizable chunks of smokey Black Forest Bacon and sweet corn. I used Pineland Farms Salsa Jack cheese, which added a wee bit more flavor to the mix than the Monterey Jack that was called for. While I was dubious of the maple syrup that the recipe called for, but the balance of sweet and savory flavors definitely worked here. They were, dare I say, even better than the griddle cakes I had at Farmhouse Tap and Grill.
It’s 44 degrees out right now. A group of preschoolers are playing in the park across the way. Sophie the Cat spent time on the deck earlier, stalking unsuspecting overweight squirrels in the trees. Then she laid down and basked in the warm sun. It’s mid-February still, right? I know that we’ve been spoiled with a pleasantly warm and, mostly, snow free winter thus far and I can’t help but have thoughts of what to grow on the deck this year in my army of bright orange Home Depot buckets.
Not all has survived the Pleasant Street deck. The fennel proved to be all frond and no bulb. Garlic rotted off in the spring. Those bastard squirrels attacked my cucumbers, leaving giant bite marks in ones large enough to harvest. Peas and peppers seemed to die off just beyond the seedling stage and what the Aphids didn’t decimate in my lettuces, the natural pesticide did. There has been one constant success in the garden, though: Tomatoes.
So, this year, outside of the usual herbs like thyme, basil, oregano and lemon grass (which does surprisingly well in our Maine climate), I think I’ll be putting out a few buckets of tomatoes. One variety, a new one on the organic seed scene, is the ‘Indigo Rose Tomato,’ developed at Oregon State University.
(photo from OSU)
It’s being dubbed the first ‘true’ purple tomato and my logic is, if it can grow and thrive in Oregon, than it’ll hopefully survive on my deck. Obviously the color is the first thing that struck me, but I am curious as to how it actually tastes. If I can coax it through the seedling stage and we have a warm spring and summer, I’ll be letting you know some time around August.
The flavor profile is said to have “a good balance of sugars and acids,” according to one of the people at OSU. High Mowing Seeds, where I purchased my packet from, describes it as “great, strongly acidic,” and that it looks like a plum when it’s cut into. But, again, time will tell. Hopefully the warm, drier winter doesn’t make for a wet and damp summer like we had a few years ago. I would hate to see another round of blight hit regional tomato crops as I’m sure everyone would.
As the growing season starts up, and I try to get these seeds from germination to transplantation, I’ll update their progress here and we’ll see if this new tomato lives up to the hype.
Imgur knows me so well.
Silly’s, on Washington Ave., gave me my first pickle. Coated and deep fried ones, of course. I liked pickles just fine and well before these came into my life several years ago, but I do have to confess to having constant, insatiable cravings for these quite often. That craving struck last week while I was scratching my noggin over what to make for our Super Bowl meal. But, I didn’t want to deal with running out there and, one down side to Silly’s fried pickles is that they tend to be extremely greasy and don’t reheat well in the oven. So, I kind of just pushed the craving to the side. Then, of course, I realized that I could just make my own at home.
So, that’s what I did, using a recipe from everyone’s favorite bar with boobies, Hooters.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika**
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper**
- 1 11 ounce jar hamburger dill pickle slices (I used Vlasic and half of a jar of Trader Joes Kosher Sandwich slices).
- 2 cups buttermilk
Preheat 8 cups of vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a large pot. Drain dill pickles in a colander and then place into a medium sized bowl with the 2 cups of buttermilk. Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Take about a handful of the pickles out of the buttermilk and dredge into the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour, and place battered pickles into hot grease. Be careful not to place too many pickles into the hot grease or the pickles won’t fry up crisp. Fry pickle slices until golden brown. Continue cooking pickles until all are done. Now you can make appetizers just like Hooters with this fried pickle recipe.
**I actually used a couple of tablespoons of Crazy Dick’s Cajun Spice Seasoning, instead of just the paprika and cayenne. I would recommend using any hot spice blend that you have at home to flavor up the flour.
Now, Silly’s spicy dipping sauce is half of the appeal of ordering the fried pickles, so I–with a tip from The Missus’ coworker–tried a hand at making that, too. It was good, but I still think I could have added a bit more spice and because I don’t really measure, these are the estimates.
- 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
- Few dashes of Franks Red Hot
- 1 tablespoon of Captain Mowatt’s Shark Bite Mustard
It wasn’t exactly like Silly’s, but it more than did the trick.
Holy shit, that’s me on ‘The Best Of‘ list for The Phoenix. The Missus and I were extremely excited, and I was extremely humbled, to see this not so shiny, nor overly fancy, little blog up there with some of the bloggers I admire and even one that may have been one of the motivators behind starting this one (Professor A., I’m looking at you).
Thank you to those who helped get me nominated and to those who have voted already. Many, many congratulations to some wonderful people and local businesses that have nominated and who would also appreciate a vote or two from you.
There it is, your heart out in the open for all the world to piss on. Happy Valentine’s Day. Is that your attitude this year? Are you sick of seeing Cupids and hearts and does the color red suddenly make you nauseous? Finding yourself alone this February 14th and slightly bitter about it? My advice to you: Fuck it and treat it like any other Tuesday that will pass by this year. Is Tuesday normally pizza night at your house? Then order a pizza. Use 2DineIn.com and order some Thai. Do absolutely nothing different.
But, on the other hand, if you’re feeling a bit full of piss and vinegar, then do something dramatically different. Go out. Go out and treat yourself to a fantastic meal to spite all of those happy couples and creepy faced Cupids. Go sit at the bar of Five Fifty Five, Hugo’s, Caiola’s, Miyake or Back Bay Grill–wherever couples are gathering–and treat yourself. Do for you. And you know what? Those people that have to wait on and serve those happy couples aren’t on a date for Valentine’s Day, either. Keep them company. Tip them well.
After that go rent a mindless movie at Video Port or, my personal recommendation, go for an Ancient Aliens marathon. Trust me, you will feel better about yourself immediately after watching that show. A little paranoid, but better. If you’re looking for a more personal, instant gratification, hit up Nomia’s on Exchange and get yourself a little something.
No matter what your choice is, just don’t hide away and dwell. No one likes a dweller.
This past Saturday, Sharon Kitchens of Delicious Musings, held her Portland Pop Up Bakery in the front of Akari. If you missed it, I feel kind of bad for you. Not only did you miss supporting a good cause, like the Good Shepherd Food Bank, but you also missed some fantastic locally made treats.
While the offerings were different than the ones Sharon sold at the Rockland Pop Up, like the Muppet Cupcakes that I had my heart set on, she still had a nice variety of baked goods up for the taking.
Simply Stroops are simply fantastic. Buttery, crunchy caramel filled waffle cookies. Who knew they were being made right here in Maine? And for the low, low cost of $1, they were a steal.
Planet Dog (pictured in the background), had some doggy treats on hand, which I’m sure were fantastic for any four legged friend. We, however, have cats so I skipped over those. It would be nice, though, to see a locally made cat treat that isn’t the nip.
El Rayo had some of their Pepita and Rice Krispy squares. But, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the sizable brownies brought from Scratch Baking Co.. The flavors were plain chocolate and chocolate peppermint. I took one for later and ended up warming it in the microwave, topping it with some Gorgeous Gelato Panna Cotta. It was simply awesome.
But, my favorite little treat came from one of our own local bloggers, Erika of Vin Et Grub. Her Macarons, filled with lemon curd, came with a an option of pepper or pine dusting on top. I purchased five pepper and one pine (mostly because I was pretty skeptical of the flavor combination). In the end, however, it was the pine that I enjoyed the most. The texture of the Macarons were perfectly light and airy. Her lemon curd was also neither too sweet or acidic. Who knew she was such the baker?
Kate, Dawn, Professor A. and I spent a good hour or so chatting with Sharon, in between her waiting on happy buyers. I love that she’s doing something like this because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good bake sale? What’s even better is that she’s doing it for a really great cause. To quote her blog, Sharon wrote:
The events in Portland and Rockland raised several hundred dollars for Good Shepherd Food Bank, a clearinghouse for donated food that is distributed to food pantries, soup kitchens, group homes, and shelters. The organization is behind Mainers Feeding Mainers, Cooking Matters for Maine, and the Feeding Maine Youth: BackPack Program. Wow!
Great job, Sharon.