Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

I was going to write a nice contemplative piece about the highs and lows of 2010 (there were several), the success and occasionally epic failures, the recipes that were requested after serving and the ones that just stunk up my kitchen.

And then I thought, "Nuts to that!" Instead, I'm going to play with my two sugar-high nephews before heading out to ring in the New Year with a glass of something that bubbles in downtown Pittsburgh. I hope each of you have a chance to celebrate in an equally fitting manner :)

Peace out, 2010!! (Don't let the door hit ya on the way out :) )

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas: The Spiked Edition

Our absolutely fabulous friends and drinking buddies M&M gave Tony and I one of our best holiday presents to date: A homemade spike-your-own-cocoa kit, complete with chocolate and a variety of mixers.

Spiked cocoa is one of my absolute favorite holiday treats and honestly is one of the few things to get me through major winter storm season (aside from Dr. Who and Top Gear marathons on BBC America.)

The bloggers over at Serious Eats have come up with a variety of ways to help you make your hot chocolate a little more "festive." Personally, I like the idea of the Candied Orange recipe, but that's just me.

Check it out here and then experiment on your own. And share the recipes already - it's the season to be giving, afterall.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Much wintery love,
Adj @ Tattoos & Champagne

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shortest Blog Post Ever

I'm writing this in between pre-holiday trip errands, so rather than recap recent events, I'm just going to summary and provide recipe links where I can.

A quick visit from my younger sister prompted a breakfast run at Miss Shirley's Cafe here in Hampden. If you're a breakfast food purist, I'd suggest hitting up another establishment for your brunch. But, if you're a fan of delicious flavor - specifically in the chicken and waffles vein - then make a beeline for Miss Shirley's as soon as you have pants on.

Tony had the Benne Seed Chicken & Waffles (boneless fried chicken with honey mustard on white chedder & green onion waffles with jalapeno butter).
While I had the What Came First, The Chicken or the Egg? (which consists of a poached egg on a buttermilk buscuit with a pepper sausage and beef gravy).

Jo had eggs and hash browns. And the Savory Grits, which are made with applewood-smoked bacon and marscapone cheese. They'll put you in a food coma approximately 15minutes after ingesting.

This past weekend has been dedicated to one single-minded venture: baking. LOADS of baking. Mostly for parties but also for a few holiday gifts. Friday I managed to turn out several dozen of the Shortbread Bakery's Earl Grey Tea Chocolate Truffles. Note to would-be bakers: Do yourself a favor and invest in some non-latex gloves before rolling the truffles. You'll save a lot of time and water wasted washing your hands repeatedly.

Next, Alton Brown's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The key to this recipe is melting the butter before mixing in the sugar and using bread (instead of all-purose) flour. If you don't have a #20 ice cream scoop (I know I sure the hell don't) then simply use a 1/4 measuring cup instead.

Finally, to cap off the weekend, I turned to the good folks at Cooks Illustrated for a coconut-free, not too sweet Carrot Cake/Cupcake recipe. Unfortunately, you need a subscription to log into the site, but for $4 a month, the how-to videos alone are worth the expense.

Whew! Ok, I need to motor. I've got at least 13 hours of driving ahead of me and I need to make sure all my playlists are in order prior to my departure. I hope each of you have an AMAZING holiday and an equally kick-ass New Year!
Happy Eating!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth (if you like kimchi)

It's no secret that I grew up munching on a variety of Asian dishes. (Still do, in fact.) However, it can be difficult to find a decent Asian foods store. I mean, come on now- any corner store can carry soy sauce and long grain rice. I'm looking for something more substantial. I want some Bao, damn it!

So you can imagine my near-giddy delight when my friends Margi and Jared offered to take me to the mecca of Asian grocery chains: H Mart.

It's a little slice of heaven.
(Or Nirvana.)

H Mart is only located in a few cities in the US, so I was ecstatic when I found out that there's one located just outside of the city. The only kicker is that because it's the only one in a 50-mile radius, the place is PACKED. And for good reason: H Mart has one of the most extensive produce sections I've ever come across. Exotic fruits and veggies for days, man! There was a kimchi counter and a woman making the stuff right there in the store. I hate kimchi (I think it tastes like feet), but couldn't help but be impressed by it all.

The store carries durian fruit. I almost bought it, but I really like not throwing up at the smell of my food.

Margi handling some extra-impressive zucchini.
At least I think that's what they are

We spent a good amount of time trolling around the aisles, looking at this and that when I came across a box of something I'd never seen before:

A bit weird, right? Turns out these tribble-looking beauties are a type of friut called rambutan. I have never encountered these before (I thought they might be lychee at first), but a woman behind us went all kinds of nostalgic at the sight of them and described how you pick, prepare, and eat them when you want a sweet snack. (Apparently, you cut off the spikey husk and eat the flesh inside.)

I picked up two to try later.

This photo makes my husband giggle every time.

Unfortunately, the rambutan got lost in the shuffle of holiday leftovers, and I wasn't able to get to them in time.

After I spent a good 10minutes making a selection from a wall of soy sauce options, my ride and I picked up some frozen odds and ends and then made it back to the city. I was in Hello Panda heaven the entire trip home.

And now, for your recipe.......

A while ago I decided to use up the last of some farmer's market apples with a recipe I had come across on the Darjeeling Dreams site: Skillet Apple Cake.

It's very easy to make, though I feel the cake part could be a little more moist. However, the dryness in my attempt may be due to the size of my skillet. I suspect the portions in the DD's recipe are intended for an 8-in skillet. Mine is 12in. Next time, I think I'll double the batter.
You can check out the recipe by checking out Darjeeling's site here.
Winter has officially come to Baltimore after sneaking in the back door, so this week it's all about warm foods, spiked cocoa, and stockinged feet. Possibly some crochet projects. In the meantime, I suggest you buckle down, catch up on past episodes of The Walking Dead if you've haven't yet, and then enjoy the musical stylings of Adele's latest single, Rolling in the Deep.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thanksgiving: The Revenge

Hey, peeps!

Sorry I suck at staying on top of these postings. (Looks like I've got something to add to my resolution '11 list already.) I promise I've been busy,trying to keep up with a year that is flying by at speeds that would rattle Einstein's grey matter.

Anywho - holiday recap! This year saw Tony and I spending yet another Thanksgiving in separate parts of the country (our families live far apart and work commitments usually restrict our travel time). So we decided to be proactive and host a pre-Thanksgiving for ourselves. Then my need to feed others kicked in and we started inviting people. Lots of people.

About a dozen confirmed invitations later and I found myself lugging home a 14lb turkey with numerous yet-to-be-prepared side dishes. After some unexpectedly intense debate about bird preparation (to brine or not to brine?), I decided to brine the damn thing and be done with it. The bird and brine solution went into a 35 gallon Rubbermaid (kept in the fridge, of course) and from roughly 9pm Saturday night until 4:30pm Sunday afternoon, I was cooking.

Tony - bless him - helped clean the house and made no fewer than 5 trips to the supermarket to pick up various ingredients during the day.

Thankfully, all went well, and everyone was eating by 4:30pm.

The spread.
Also, the striped rugby shirt I will no longer be wearing.
(Seriously, why didn't anyone tell me it looked so wide on me?!?)

The final menu looked something like this:

*Brined Roasted Turkey (using Alex Guarnaschelli's recipe, but Cooks Illustrated's cooking method)

*Carrots with Shallots, Sage & Thyme (Courtesy of Two Cooks, One Kitchen)

*Roasted Sweet Potatoes (using the par-boiling method recommended by Serious Eats)

*Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Gorgonzola, Shallots & Tomatoes (Courtesy of Mango & Tomato)

*The Famous/Infamous Wiley Corn Pudding

*Cranberry Sauce with Dried Cherries & Cloves (shout out to Matt from ex-boyfriend collection for the recipe)

*Stuffing (Stove Top. I was too tired to make it from scratch.)

*Mashed Potatoes & Gravy (Thank you, McCormick!)

*Trader Joe's brand Corn Bread (really, really freaking delicious)

*Italian Bread (via Pillsbury)

*Various pies for dessert

I also need to thank Emily for making a green bean casserole, Suzanne for making that butternut squash & goat cheese tart, and Patti for the sweet potato pie mash. Oh - and props to Paul and Brad for bringing booze. (Bless ya!)

Tony and I are ALMOST done with the leftovers, which have taken the form of a turkey noodle casserole, turkey & rice soup, and - coming for the Ravens v. Steelers game Sunday - Thanksgiving pizza.

And now, we wait for Christmas. Which I can easily countdown to with my handy-dandy, best big sis-to-lil-sis present ever: the pop up Advent calendar.

Each day I get a new ornament to hang on the tree.

Try not to be jealous. :)

I've got a trip to H-Mart (aka, Hanah Reum) (aka, the Asian food mega mart) to recap and possibily some housing news to share in the near future. But for now, enjoy some tunes by my buddy Gary's outstand band, The Outdoors.