Month: April 2012

Triple Chocolate & Shattered Dreams

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Alright, so “shattered dreams” is a bit over dramatic.

I haven’t been writing lately and I just feel awful. I don’t know what I think. That something will come from all of this? I don’t know. I’m ridiculous. I have been exhausted recently, some weekend  nights sleeping almost 12 hours, getting up in the morning only because I know I have to rouse myself from bed.

I’m not depressed, in fact I have a new job that I like very much. It’s just that said job keeps me very, very busy and by the time I get home I can barely get through the gym and cooking dinner, let alone cooking anything new and interesting.

And it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve been cooking a bit, but mostly making old standards. I’ve been meaning to do Pop Bytes as well, what with the over abundance of movie news for the summer, among other things, but I just…haven’t. Below are some pictures of foods I’ve made recently that I completely had intentions of posting here with recipes, none of which really matter, but keep scrolling and you’ll see the recipe for the triple chocolate cookies I’m baking as we speak. Rock.

Super easy scratch drop cheddar biscuits.

Grilled Pizza with eggplant, mozzarella, and smoked provolone.

Slow roasted Brisket in a red wine reduction with braised & blackened Brussel Sprouts.

Year of the Dragon cupcakes with Lemon-Vanilla center.

And this morning I mastered making poached eggs…

Which I ate with toast, a slice of aged provolone, fresh cherry tomatoes, salt & pepper.

Yum.

So, Triple Chocolate Cookies, yeah?

 This is from the America’s Test Kitchen archives. I was thinking of making chocolate crinkles or crackles or whateverthehell they’re called, but I didn’t like any of the recipes I’ve found. Normally, I have no problem with tweaking a recipe and experimenting, but today I wanted a no brainer.

3 oz. baker’s chocolate

1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) bittersweet chocolate chips. VERY important.

7 TBSPs unsalted butter

2 tsp instant espresso

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

love

Okay, so melt the baker’s chocolate, bittersweet chips, and butter together. Either use a double boiler, also known as a glass bowl over a simmer sauce pot of water, or ye olde microwave. You want it to be smooth and shiny. It’s important that the chips are bittersweet here because the chips have an emulsifier in them that helps them keep their shape, and that emulsifier will work the same magic on our cookies. I fucking love science in food!

Set aside the shiny chocolate. Mix the vanilla & instant espresso together, making instant vanilla espresso extract. It smells amazing, and that’s going to be incorporated through your cookies. Awesome. Now set that aside. In a stand mixer, beat the 3 eggs with the sugar for about 4 minutes on medium-high speed. I stupidly forgot to take a picture of this, but the mixture needs to be thicker, white, and almost creamy. While that’s frothing away, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Ready? Set it aside. Once the 4 minutes are up on the eggs and sugar, turn the mixer down to low, you don’t want to break that froth that you’ve made, and add the extract mixture. Then add the chocolate concoction and continue mixing for another 30 seconds on low, until everything is well blended.

Turn off the mixer and fold in the flour mixture, as well as the semi-sweet chocolate chips. The batter is like brownie batter at this point; set it aside for 30-45 minutes and it will thicken quite a bit. No, you don’t have to refrigerate it. Just set it aside. If it’s July and you live in Austin or Phoenix, then you might want to refrigerate the mixture, but otherwise, the counter is fine.

Once thickened, scoop heaping tablespoons of the chocolate goo on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350. I baked mine for 10 minutes and they probably could’ve used a minute or two more, but my oven normally runs warm. Now here’s the hard part: When you take them out you’re going to think “Those aren’t cooked through!” In fact, a toothpick should come out completely coated in browie-cookieness, if you were to test it. The thing is that these cool forever. Well, it feels like forever. So, take out your so-not-done cookies after about 11-12 minutes, and let sit on the cookie sheets  for ten minutes. Then move them to a cooling rack for an additional 30 minutes. You heard me. Finish baking these cookies and then go out and complete all your shopping, because it seems like an eternity for these to finally cool.

Once they are cool, though, you’re rewarded with a soft, chewy, triple chocolate espresso brownie cookie. Does anyone need these? No. Do you have to have them? Yes.

Ultra Quiche Lorraine

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The evening’s dinner is brought to you by everything that’s bad and fatty for a human body. And delicious.

Quiche Lorraine is just a name.

Roughly translated it’s “Bacon and Egg Yolks covered in Cheese” Pie.

The first time my husband ate this he wound up having seconds three hours later at 10pm in lieu of dessert. It’s heavy comfort food; a single slice should send you into a food coma second only to your family’s Thanksgiving feast.

So whatcha gonna need?

6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped to about 1 inch pieces. This winds up being just over 1 cup of bacon. You can also use pancetta, which is what I was going to get, but the line was just long at the supermarket today and I hate people, so I didn’t want to wait.

1 1/4 cup 1% milk. Just a note here: classic recipes of quiche call for all cream. Now, I don’t want to die of a coronary two bites in, so I do a milk and 1/2 & 1/2 mix. You, however, can do all cream, some cream, no cream, whatever the hell you want.

1 1/2 cup half & half

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, diced into 1/2 inch pieces. I just bought a hunk and cut it up, but you can also ask your deli for a slice or two that’s 1/2 inch thick, which is what I was going to do, but, again, the line, and the hatred of people, etc…

6 wedges Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Cheese. I used original stuff, but use whatever flavor you would like.

1 cup asparagus, sliced into 1 inch long pieces on the diagonal.

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp dried dill

2 deep dish pie crusts. I used the frozen ones and thawed them.

1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese, optional

Preheat your oven to 375. Saute the bacon over medium to medium high heat stirring frequently; render the fat, but keep it soft. Once most of the fat has melted away, move the bacon pieces to a plate with paper towels to absorb any lingering grease. In a sauce pan, scorch the milk  and half & half. Turn the heat on high, let it bubble up to almost boiling over, and remove it from heat to let cool. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the spices, then slowly, slowly temper the eggs with the milk mixture until combined.

Prick the bottom of the pie crusts. Sprinkle the bacon into the bottom of each. Then add the Swiss cubes. Break, or smoosh, the Laughing Cow cheese as best you can and drop bits of it in each crust. Place the 2 pies onto a cookie sheet and put on the middle rack of your oven. While the it’s still pulled out a bit, pour the custard mixture slowly and evenly into each. Then bake for 20 minutes.

While the quiches are baking, steam the asparagus until just fork tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and dry well. Once the first 20 minutes of baking are up, pull the quiches out, sprinkle the tops with asparagus, and bake for another 15 minutes. You may need to put foil collars around the crusts of the pie crusts if you feel they’re browning too much. I put them on for safety, but it wouldn’t have been horrible without them.

Once those next 15 minutes are up, sprinkle the tops of each quiche with a little of the Manchego cheese if using it. This is a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain and adds a beautiful bit of flavor without being as strong as a goat cheese. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes.

Cool for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Yep. Let these puppies setup for quite a while. Serve with a salad mixed with sweet berries and a light citrus vinaigrette to accompany the bacony saltiness of the quiche. Maybe a dollop of sour cream, or creme fraiche if you have fancy-schmancy stick up your ass. And have a Leinenkugel’s with a wedge of lemon to balance every thing out. Why the hell not.

I Am Not Baby Crazy

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I’m not.

I’m not baby crazy.

My boss is positive I’m going to wake one morning demanding the spawn of my spouse. I’m not sure if he’s right or wrong, but I do know that today is not that day.

My friends, however, are procreating at a fantastic speed, and I think it’s adorable! I totally do. My wee little chick friends are developing beautiful rotund bellies filled with their own personal mini-me’s. And it’s friggin’ cute.

It’s also a whole new outlet for me to release my inner super geek! (Super Geek – Super Geek – she’s Super Geeky, yooooooow.)

So, naturally, I’ve been spending entirely too much time on Etsy. It’s totes my kryptonite.

And that’s as girly as I get. That and squeeing for puppies dressed as yoda and/or dinos.

Holy crap, that’s cute. Etsy SatMorningPancakes.

Ugh.

Right now, I’m too selfish. I want to do more. I want to be something worthwhile before being placed in a position to be an example for a child. I’m coming to terms with never being great, I just need to be good enough. This is not an odd feeling in regards to procreating. There is a certain amount of selfishness in creating a child, but in an acceptable way. As if saying “I’m personally good enough to pursue immortality vicariously.”Ohhhh….there it is: I have no self esteem.

The other issue is that I’ve never written as little as I have in the past month and this loss or lack  makes me look at where I am in life, which is far from the point of spawning.

I have yet to figure out why I have this correlation between writing and birthing, but, for me, it’s important. There has to be enough information spewed out before a baby can be spewed out born.

Information. Education. Writing.

Perhaps having a baby is not important to me yet because it’s not important to the perspective grandparents. There’s no pressure there, so I certainly don’t feel like it’s a necessity, and until I feel a need then it’s not the right time. I also don’t think boys ever need a kid. And I’m not up for raising one alone, so…

So, people are having babies later, people in long term relationships are having them out of wedlock, people are choosing to not have children at all and it’s all okay. God, marriage. There’s something that’s just pointless now. I should just walk into a court house, be able to declare my intention of forming a family unit, and be given the paperwork to change my name if I so desire. “I intend to support this person, and them, me.” “Well, alrighty, here’s the paperwork to have a joint name if so wanted, as well as to insure that person.” Period. The rest of it can go to hell.

Family unit. I’m starting my own clan. Like a tree house, only instead of “no boys allowed”, it’s simply “No one else; if I want more, I’ll make ’em”.

What I’m saying is I need a tree house, not a kid.

Wait…no. I think I may have gotten off topic.

What Does a Critic Owe Its Audience?

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I love research. I love knowing what was, what didn’t work, what changed, and watching it all disappear as the future charges on.

I like knowing the whole story, which is why I read a book prior to seeing the tale depicted on the big screen.

I do not <any longer> huff and puff during a movie when aspects I loved in the story were changed or omitted all together. Having a spouse who does not read broke me of that seriously annoying habit long ago. But when I read film reviews – which I rarely do – I immediately know when the critic has or has not read the book that inspired the movie.

But do they have to? Do they have to know the whole story?

Photo credit hungergameswtc.net

When I read the Rollingstone review of The Hunger Games I got the very distinct impression that the author did not read the books, that their complaints with the film were not relative to what the actual problems were. But then I thought “Why would the critic have to read the books?” After all, their review is of the movie and not the story.

I want more, though. Isn’t that always my problem? I want my reviewer to be knowledgable, to not just say “I like X, Y, Z, and disliked A.” I want something comprehensive, something worth arguing intelligently…but then maybe I’m just expecting too much from the critics. To ask that they look at something truly critically is apparently asking too much. I often say “If I can dothat [i.e. the work produced by another], then they’re not trying; it’s not art; it’s a poor writing.” And that’s why I so rarely read reviews: I don’t care nor do I think there’s enough information.

Which brings me back to the beginning: How knowledgeable does a critic have to be to write a truly comprehensive piece? What do they owe their readers? I guess I just expect more  (no surprise there). I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. When it comes to faith in information, when it comes to trusting another person to give us information, though, shouldn’t we have somewhat high expectations for them?

Perhaps, by biggest problem is that simplifying things means that we’re dumbing down our society, that we’re making it okay to operate on less. And knowledge is free, if we’re operating on less of anything it should be gasoline and electricity. It should be less caloric intake, and less anger. But we should never, ever sacrifice education due to laziness.

How did I get here from a disappointing movie review? Add that to one of my many problems.

*Side note for Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class fans: Due to the filming schedule of Jennifer Lawrence on the Hunger Games set, she will be unable to film X-Men: Second (?) Class until January of 2013. Yep, they’re going to hold up filming the entire movie just for Lawrence, who, ironically, never has to work again if she doesn’t want to. [Blastr]

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

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What do you mean “Where have [I] been?!”

I’m right here! Let’s just move on, shall we?

The Best Thing You’re Not Utilizing Right Now: Adonit’s Jot Flip. This little beauty clips to your shirt or can be tossed in your lady-purse like any pen, BUT it also doubles as an incognito stylus for your iPad/iPhone. It’s so much more, though – Forget about feeling like you chubby fingers are too inadequate to play DrawSomething (they are, get on a treadmill for craps sake), you can now blow away your competition on the hit app, scribe notes in cursive, teach your kids to write on apps, draw with better precision on any tablet – it’s simply bad ass. This thing is crazy awesome and it comes in a ton of colors so I don’t have to ‘customize’ mine with Star Wars stickers, which is a nice change of pace for all the other mobile accessories I buy. Best of all, Adonit will play one game a week – Starting Tomorrow, Thursday April 5th, and feature their favorite DrawSomething artwork on their blog. We’re talking Artist Recognition for DrawSomething. It’ll be the next internet meme. Just make sure you have the right tools to compete. [Adonit, Werd]

* What’s a day without a Star Wars reference? Why it’s no day at all, my good fellow. Flavorwire has put together a list of 9 Star Wars references you never noticed before…but, yes you did, ’cause you’re as bad as me when it comes to an Empirical obsession. [Flavorwire]

* It’s Wednesday, also known as Humpday. If that’s not good enough and you need a lil’ extra boost for your day, Buzzfeed has inspired posts you can put around your claustrophobic cubicle to remind you you’re human even if your boss is not. [Buzzfeed]

* Kevin Bacon decided to play 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon  and found out he’s distantly related to his own wife. [Inquistr]

* Rufus Wainwright has a new music video out starring Helena Bonham Carter. This is the first thing she’s done since Fight Club that wasn’t directed by someone she’s sleeping with and that doesn’t also start Johnny Depp. [PasteMagazine]