Thursday, October 21, 2010

Avocado Desperado

This was no high-noon battle. We'd been pursuing the varmint, tracking him for weeks, circling in like buzzards. But not just buzzards: somebody would have to close in to make the kill. We are the gang of three: Rachel, straight shooter, fastest pastry-slinger west of the Atlantic; Tracy, fiery-deadly with a whip; and yours truly, the unhinged experimenter, defying a slow or easy death to any victim.

Get along little cookies, we got a dessert to wrangle.

We stared down at the fresh tube of sugar cookie dough, like the smooth barrel of a shotgun. Carefully, as it was fully loaded, we handled the s.o.b. Rachel got her hands dirty, adding plenty of ginger, then more just for the hell of it. She coldly, mechanically formed a couple dozen identical balls. I took them "down stairs" for a little heat treatment, to show those bast*rds we weren't kidding around, that they had better shape up.

When I came back, Tracy, Rachel, and deputy Shengning had stripped, pitted, and mashed the avocado with some sugar. Funny, it was pretty darn wet. You wouldn't think something so small had that much to it. When some cookies had cooled their heels long enough, we slathered the green good on 'em. They were a sight too glisten-y for our liking.

Tracy flashed her whip, thickening things up with some flour and corn starch. I made a twisted sort of grin, improvised a double-boiler, and heated a beaten egg with sugar, then scrambled the avocado mixture with it. That's more like it. But a taste of power made me crazy for more, and I cackled as half a packet of gelatin dissolved into boiling water, and added to the mess. No more heat for this hombre; into the freezer.

Our posse took down that dessert. It may not have been pretty, and it may have been overly gelatinous and strangely savory, but we got the job done. Yep. Time for us amigos to skedaddle, hit the trail for another try.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

lazy sunday

well gang, we've been pretty lazy (or busy) these past sundays, and every other days. we haven't been making much in the way of the pillsbury bake off, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been on our minds. and in general, we've still been cooking.

why just this past sunday, we recreated a dish i had once in florence: blueberry steak. quick sear on a couple steaks, and they headed into a reduction of blueberries, blueberry jam, red wine, cinnamon and rosemary. i'm not generally a fan of fruit and meat, but this was delicious. it sauce didn't have quite the thickness or richness of the version served at acqua al'due, but it was still darn tasty.

before sunday, i mixed up a big batch of new mexican meatball soup. whoo doggies. spicy and amazing. i just finished up the last of it, and in these final dog days of summer, with the chipotle-serrano-poblano-jalapeno based soup and the steamy temperatures, i was sweating like nixon.

this is all just to say, rest assured, dear fan(s). we'll soon be experimenting, photographing, and posting again. when the leaves start to turn, that's when the baking is at its best.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peachy Spleen

Well, it was actually quite tasty, but the recipe for peach cobbler with Bisquick was nevertheless a bit lacking. Short on vim, vivacity, the dreamy airiness and light that one expects to accompany a golden southern belle, a sweet, blushing Georgia (shhh, she doesn't know she's from New Jersey) fruit. I blame its failure on overindulgence, a reliance on too much milk that couldn't possibly rise up as intended through that orangey goo emanating from the sliced flesh. Like Scarlet's abundant petticoated dress impeding her determined mobility, it was all just too much.

But the cinnamon and vanilla were right on. And warm-sweet nubs of fruit, even with mushy cobbler cursed by one dairy form, blended ever so perfectly with slowly melting ice cream. It might be too hot for baking these past few days, but not too far back there was a time when the golden heat of the oven matched the tones of the inexplicably available fruit, and they were beautiful and ravishing even if it could never last.

Making the batter from scratch, one can control the baking-powder/flour/sugar/milk ratio, and perhaps even add an egg for depth of flavor and a more cake-like consistency (still with plenty of biscuit flavor). Dotting with butter might add crispness and richness to the top as well. I remain a cobbler ingenue, but of course, fiery debutantes must fight their way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I pity the blackcurrant fool!

this blog post, too, like the one below it is an update on some of our summer weekend adventures. picture, if you will, a bucolic hike through the mountains of (slightly) upstate new york. here -- this picture should help you picture it.
this is claire and me hiking around storm king. we'd just finished a couple round-offs and back-hand springs. it was an amazing day and there were literally dozens of wild blueberries along the path for us to gobble up. after the hike, we made our way to fish kill orchard which has a number of delicious fruits for the picking. matt had called ahead to ensure blueberries were ready, but upon arriving we were told that "they're not ripe yet." being the renegades that they are, the veligdans said "balls to that!" and picked them anyway. me, being a helmick, dutifully obeyed the fish kill staff and stuck to the fully-ripened blackcurrants.

i'm glad i did, because blackcurrants are a curious fruit. this was a magical new adventure for my taste buds. these little dark blue bulbs are tart, sweet and meaty all at the same time. they start out with a flavor similar to...mushrooms? or perhaps a well cooked pork chop. then come in for a zing of tartness, followed by a mellow sweetness that is not overpowering the way some other berries can be.

i scoured the internet for recipes using fresh blackcurrants, and only came up with a couple. in the end, i went with a recipe for blackcurrant fool. "fool," i'm told by mr. webster is "a cold dessert of pureed fruit mixed with whipped cream or custard." it couldn't have been simpler.

1. boil the currants with a smidgen of water until they're juicy and broken down
2. puree them in the blender with some super fine sugar
3. let them cool, whilst you whip up some cream and a egg white
4. combine and refrigerate for a few hours

i took this blackcurrant fool over to our dear friend shengning's new apartment for a rooftop bbq. i had brought along the ingredients for s'mores, but the gang quickly discovered that the marshmallows (toasted or not) were delicious dipped in the blackcurrant fool.

everything was a smashing success. and while this isn't directly a recipe that could be used for the p-bury competition, i've started thinking up ways we could append it. wouldn't a layered blackcurrant fool and marshmallow pie be delicious? happy tiers of bright purple and pristine white would be inviting for any dessert lover.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekends' Updates

Points on Kitchen-Counter Counterpoint

Since she is unfortunately allergic to posting on this blog, I will attempt to describe Tracy's recent-hit cupcakes from last weekend's 5th Annual 3rd of July Party. The dainty darlings were fairy-charming, as if perfectly designed by that mythical figure to tempt you with perfected confections until your teeth fall out one by one, and she whisks them away to her lair, leaving you with sugary dreams and perhaps a half-dollar. The cupcakes were golden, a combination (if I remember correctly) of cake mix, corn muffin mix, and banana, which actually formed a democratic union of flavor. The beauties were pink strawberry frosting blushed across their tops, and a bulbous blueberry reigned in roly-poly kingship at the very center.


Not at all, in fact. The stuffed peppers, that is. This dish has the potential to satisfy moms' desire for familial vegetable intake as well as kids' requirement of potato-based sustenance. Skip the chips, let fly the fries, toss the tots -- these taters are tasty and almost luminous with their own seemingly-industrial-but-really-beneficial veneer of neon yellow. But let's begin and the beginning. Core some bell peppers, or slice in half and remove stem, veins, and seeds. Dunk in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then drain. Boil potatoes until just tender. Saute onion, garlic, and many spices -- tumeric gives the yellow glow, we also use cumin, coriander, a decent amount of salt, a little cloves and cinnamon -- for about ten minutes. Then add the potatoes and some raisins. Stuff this mess into the peppers, and bake.

Is this too exotic for your average Pils home-baker? Aren't we all searching for more outlets for the mysterious spices that stock the racks and rotators and wedding-gift-packs that end up huddling forlorn, scootching their way ever backward in the cupboard? Throw them all in here. Fennel seed. Cardamom. Why not a bit of paprika? Will this humble vessel of pepper and potato serve as transport for new cuisine into standard kitchens, and across borders for those hands that add them to the pan?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's my chocolate attack

I'll keep this brief, but I wanted to share a semi-recent discovery about those hot chocolate packets my office supplies in our kitchen.

Should you find yourself in desperate need of something chocolaty, and with only an empty pocketbook or vending machine, here is a simple solution:

1. Empty 1 packet of Nestle or Swiss Miss hot chocolate into a disposable cup.
2. Pour in approximately 1/4 cup milk.
3. Mix like hell. (It won't want to mix at first, but it will eventually acquiesce.)
4. Microwave for about 35-40 seconds.

The result is an extremely molten brownie milkshake thing. It is so good. And if I've done my math right, only about 110 calories. Mmmmmm.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rhyming Cutlets

Sing a song of kitchens full of girls so spry,
Four and twenty flour sacks baked rising high.
When their goods were tasted the girls began to sing,
'Our sweet treats should win grand prize -- the Dough Boy crown us king!'
The girls picked through their cupboards, oils and sauce so runny,
The boys helped chop and drink and fart and tell jokes fairly funny,
They seared and boiled, grilled and broiled, but still they have not chose,
The recipe to rule them all, wow every eye and mouth and nose!