Posts Tagged ‘sweets’

Buttermilk in Your Eye is Not Pleasant, but Buttermilk Cookies Are Awesome: Buttermilk Cookies

Buttermilk cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

Josh, you have inspired me to bake. Well, Josh, it’s a toss-up between you and the barely used carton of buttermilk in the fridge. (Remember those deep-fried eggs?…) I feel like buttermilk often has this effect on people.

This project was miraculous for two reasons. One: I don’t bake. And two: I did my dirty dishes right after cooking. As for the first reason, I simply find that my temperament is not suited to baking. Baking is too mathematical, precise, and often unforgiving. I don’t even own a set of measuring spoons. And I cook very much by trial and error. And I am extremely bad at reading recipes. As for the second, that is probably truly the miracle.

My friend Brittany (or rather, Brittany’s mom) used to make these buttermilk cookies around Christmas time (I think – it was back in high school), and they were the best cookies ever. I finally asked for the recipe when we were about to graduate, then managed to make them – never. Lucky for me and the buttermilk in the fridge, I had just been looking through my recipe collection and had just those cookies in the back of my mind.

As with the measuring spoons, I don’t own a handheld mixer. So I creamed butter, eggs, and sugar by hand. Josh, here you were again inspiring.

Creamed butter and sugar (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I discovered, after I got this far, that I didn’t have any flour. So, leaving my pre-pubescent dough on the counter, I threw on a coat and some boots over my pajamas and ran to Bravo to pick up supplies so I could finish baking.

Back to work with flour and buttermilk, at which point the dough began to take on a sour twang that cut nicely through the sugar. I slipped little teaspoons of dough onto my baking stone and let the oven work its magic. » Continue reading this post...

For Better or Worse (a post by Josh): Ginger Tart with Pear & Mascarpone

Mascarpone tart (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

My grandparents have been married for fifty-one years and two days. That’s more than twice my age. That means that they got married in 1958. They’ve been together since 1949. About a week ago, on their anniversary, they came over to my house to celebrate. When they were over here, they told me stories of how normal weddings took place in the town you grew up in, not some travel vacation. And the reception wasn’t anything too big, sometimes even punch and cookies in the basement of the church (where all weddings took place). Today, it’s kind of funny to think of getting married and asking everyone to just walk down to the basement for some sugar cookies. Maybe it’s just an indication of the times, or one of those competitions things we have here in America (my wedding’s going to be better than yours, see: MTV’s Super Sweet Sixteen).

Either way, they came over to my house three days ago and we were going to have a big thing for them. We wanted to make this year special. Why 51 and not 50? Honestly, because I was in Paris last year, eating baguettes, cheese, and duck and running around the Seine. So, this year the whole family was together and we were going to celebrate!

We had the whole thing down. The Kaplans would bring a salad. Nancy would cook her famous chicken and dumplings (I’ll try to steal the recipe from her soon enough). And I was delegated to dessert. I think I’ve got a reputation in my family for making dessert. That’s okay with me, I’ll have to say.

So my task was to now make something good enough to satisfy the 10 people of my family while also making it special enough for my grandparents’ anniversary. I thought: carrot cake? » Continue reading this post...

A New Half Moon, but Not Like Twilight (a post by Josh): Black & White Cookies

Half & Half cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

I have a few things to confess. The first is that I haven’t completely abandoned this blog. I know that it seems like it, since the last time I posted was about five months ago. There are a few reasons for that, for sure, but maybe no excuses. I can’t say that I haven’t been cooking since then, since I surely have. I also can’t say I haven’t been writing since then, because it seem like I’ve written about three hundred pages since that time. What I can say is that a few things have changed since August. I finished my southern culinary tour, I moved into a new apartment, I ran a half marathon, I gained a serious affinity for Kombucha and turkey curry salad, and I finished my penultimate semester at college. So where does that leave me? At home, thinking about my last semester at college, and a little uneasy. So what do I turn to? Writing, but of course!

The other big thing I have to confess is: the inspiration to start back writing was both coming back home for the holidays, and (don’t judge) watching Julie and Julia. It’s not that I fell in love with that movie, but it’s that I realized that writing and food really are what I live for (I think that might be a line imbedded in that movie somewhere).

Dropping the dough (Eat me. Drink Me.) Baking cookies (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

So what do I write about, to get things started one more time? I could go back to where I left off and talk about canning strawberry jam with my grandmother in Gretna, Virginia. Or I might be able to talk about that one article in Gourmet that inspired me to write a whole post, without posting it. Or maybe, I could talk about the fact that my dream job came crashing down the day Gourmet died. » Continue reading this post...

Here’s to You, Ms. Sallie Ann Robinson (a post by Josh): Pecan Crunch Cookies

Scenery in Savannah (Eat Me. Drink Me.)

By no means am I trying to beat a dead horse, but Savannah is a beautiful city that needs just a little more attention. So don’t stop if you’ve heard this before, its worth a second telling. I know I’ve spoken about how Savannah is my second home before, but this time around, I was able to appreciate Savannah in a whole new light. I think it was the fact that by the end of my week there, I could get around town without directions, go to a coffee shop that I grew attached to, or just mellow out in a square downtown.

But I was also doing research; let’s not forget that part of the summer deal. Lyz described some of the meals, talking about the flakey biscuits and the crunchy fried chicken, Sallie Ann Robinson’s food and life advice, and homemade breakfasts at a slower pace. I also took off some days, separate from the group, to check out some amazing places around Savannah.

First, we have Sallie Ann Robinson. Lyz talked about her briefly in her last post, but let me try to parse out a few more details. Sallie Ann was born and raised on Daufuskie Island – a barrier island just north of Savannah. She left Daufuskie back in 1988, just “to get off the island.” It wasn’t the right place for her. What she brought with her, though, were some warm memories of her childhood, some excellent life advice and a whole lot of passion for food.

Lyz and I met with Sallie on a Friday morning, just two hours after her twelve hour shift let out. Sallie greeted us at the door and welcomed us into her home saying “Now, I was told not to feed y’all, because if I did – y’all would never leave!” » Continue reading this post...

Bless Your Good Corn Bread (a post by Josh): Aunt Sarah’s Fudge

It’s funny how, despite my multiple heritages, I claim certain aspects more. For example – I claim my Polish heritage more than anything else. But when asked where I’m from in the States, I say the South nine times out of ten.

It is true, I am from the South. I was born in Virginia and now live in North Carolina. But for my more formative years (ages 4 – 18) I lived in New York. I guess my nomadic lifestyle has allowed me to claim the best of either of the worlds.

Easter is the perfect example of my picking and choosing of my heritages. When it comes to Easter, I think of two things: chocolate and ham. Those years I was a vegetarian, I would think: chocolate and yam. Almost ham, but not quite. It’s a joke, roll with it.

As far as the foods though, I claim Southern pride when it comes to chocolate. My grandma’s fudge is pride-worthy. And with ham, or yams for that matter, I go with my Northern grandma and her honied ham and candied yams.

During my last visit to Gretna, Virginia – the home of my dad’s grandparents – I found my grandma’s secret for her devilish fudge: A cookbook from 1939 entitled: The Southern Cook Book of Fine Old Dixie Recipes (a cook book she’s had since they were married.)

This cookbook is a rare find: wooden panels serve as the cover, red yarn as the bindings and pages that don’t adhere to consecutive numbering (page 46 is followed by the index, the title page preceded by page 8).

In addition to the lyrics from antebellum South that border on racist (“Carry dat load on your head, De Lord will bless your good corn bread,” “I’s got a girl in Afriky, She’s az purty az can be”) and recipes that make 1200 gallons of Burgoo, I found my grandma’s recipe for fudge on page 46 (found at the front of the book). » Continue reading this post...

Brenda’s Carrot Cake (a post by Josh): Carrot Cake

Friends often know each other by many names. Sometimes relevant, sometimes obscure. Just yesterday I got a letter from an elementary school friend, who currently lives in the 7th in Paris, addressed to me as “carrot cake.”

I think I first made this tempting dessert when I was 16 – after an eight hour day of bussing tables. During that shift, my boss had revealed the dessert of the week – carrot cake. It was good, but a typical semi-dry, walnut laden, not so sweet cake trying to border “good for you” and decadence. At that point in my career, I had established a semi-serious competition with the dessert chef. With this new revealing, I had another opportunity to top the chef.

At home that night, I searched through online and hard cover cook books to find a recipe. Epicurious again prevailed – a carrot cake with Maple cream cheese frosting. Giddy and ambitious at midnight, I started prepping the ingredients as if I was going to be able to finish that night. Carrots shredded in a bowl topped with brown sugar, cream cheese sitting out to acclimate to room temperature, flour sitting in a fluffy pile, I was well on my way when my post-work high faded. I left everything out that night, which turned out to be my best use of procrastination.

The next morning, I found the carrots had juiced themselves, leaving me with two cups of carrots, shredded, and ½ cup of sweetened carrot juice. I proceeded through the recipe, adding ginger, cardamom and nutmeg to my liking and prematurely iced the warm cake – allowing the cream cheese icing to sink into the crust.

Obviously I didn’t want to send my “rough draft” straight into the main event, so I packed up my cake and headed off to my elementary school friend’s house to have a proper taste testing. » Continue reading this post...

Provincial Mornings (a post by Josh): Overnight French Toast

I found my new recipe for french toast. I found it after a long night, some mindless egg beating and an emotional conversation, but I think this time, the ends justify my means. Around 11 at night, I got a phone call:

“Hey. Um, when are you – going home?”

“When do you need me there?”

“Don’t rush. No. I’m fine.”

Around 11:10pm, I was home.

Around 1:30am, I was in bed.

What transpired from pm to am included a few venting tears, a bunch of hugs, and my resolution to do what I could to be there for her. What I leaned on was food, obviously. I mean, whenever I get down, I need there to be quick food so I don’t have to think about my next meal. That’s not exactly true, I’m quite the opposite, but I imagine others feel like that. At least, that’s how my friend felt.

She went to bed around 12:20am, and I found myself searching hard copy cook books and Epicurious for breakfasts that soothe my soul with hearty warmth. Pancakes stuffed with honeyed ricotta, waffles loaded with cherries and cardamom, omelets from the southwest – these were all recipes I tried to adapt for my friend.

But let’s be honest, it was the new morning slash late night and I had work the next day. That’s not to say that the culinary effort for my friend wasn’t worth it, but more than five hours of sleep seemed a worthy reason for taking the gourmet factor down a notch. So I fell back on my provincial friend – french toast. I remembered two things first – stale bread works best and dipping eggs are best with milk.

“French Toast” turns up about two hundred and one times on Epicurious, but I seemed to find my perfect recipe on the first page. » Continue reading this post...