All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ~John Gunther

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I have been trying to learn to make drinks.

I am relying heavily on Robert Hess's book: The Essential Bartender's Guide and it's been great for me because I really wanted to learn old-fashioned ways of making the drinks, and he is insistent on the basics and the originals.

I started with the old fashioned, one of the original cocktails. It contains sugar, bourbon, water, and bitters. Garnish is orange peel and a cherry (sometimes more than one in my case.) I have been drinking a lot of these since I started this quest in the fall:

Next up, a dry martini, in my only (at the time) martini glass:

A margarita, very simple, just cointreau, tequila, and lime juice:

Tonight, I decided to get fancy, and I made two drinks that aren't "basic" - I did a modification of a Hemingway Daiquiri and a drink called "Harvard" maybe "Harvard Cocktail" is better?

I served them up in my new cocktail glasses, which are just new to me, since I got them at the antique market.

The Hemingway Daquiri calls for grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur. I had ruby red grapefruit juice and no maraschino, so I went with it. It has: white rum, rupy red grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake with ice, strain into glass!

The Harvard seemed fun since I happen to work there, and also because I wanted to serve it to roommate kristen, who loves the Harvard pens I bring home. Also, I thought it would go well with her High Life.

The Harvard is brandy, sweet vermouth, grenadine, lemon juice and angostura bitters:

baked mac and cheese with broccoli

I got a sweet mac and cheese cookbook in December, and I finally made a recipe from it tonight! the book is: Macaroni & Cheese by Marlena Spieler.

As usual I made some modifications. I ended up using all 4 burners at a time and a lot of pots and pans to get this one done. It's not actually that simple, but super worth it. Her recipe is called "Yankee Doodle Dandy Baked Macaroni & Cheese" and I took a tip from the bottom and did a broccoli addition.

Here's the basics:

Under cooked one box (12 oz) shell pasta and set aside. It's find if it cools off.

Grate a buttload of cheese. I went with 14 ounces of Grafton Cheddar, 6 ounces of Cabot Monterey Jack, 3 ounces of crumbled chevre (the recipe calls for blue cheese crumbles, but I'm not a blue cheese fan, so I went this route instead) and half a cup of parmesan (I bought the grated kind cause I was lazy.

also cut up a head of broccoli into little florets. bowl water and cook the florets for about 2-3 minutes and then drain. they should be bright green. set aside.

in a pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter and saute half an onion and 2 cloves of garlic (all chopped) for a few minutes (they don't need to be super cooked, just good and aromatic.)

Then split the cheese into two bowls. 3 ounces of cheddar, 3 ounces of jack and 2 tablespoons of parm in one bowl. All the rest of the cheese in the other bowl (this bowl with a ton of cheese, including all the goat cheese, goes in the sauce).

Now you have to make bechamel. Heat 3 cups of milk (I used 2%, but whole is also good. But no skim. It needs fat!) until they are hot (but not boiling). in a separate large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, when it is melted sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour into it. mix and let cook for 1-2 minutes and don't burn it!!! then add the hot milk to the butter flour sitch. Add a bay leaf. cook while stirring for about 7 minutes so it starts to thicken. Don't boil though! use a whisk to stir/delumpify.

take the bechamel off heat. stir in 1 tablespoon of dry mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, a sprinkle of salt, and a liberal amount of cracked pepper. take out the bay leaf Now add the big bowl of cheese to the bechamel and stir. Now add the garlic/onion/butter mixture, stir that in too.

melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan you already did the garlic/onions in. add 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs and combine with the butter over heat.

Now you can put it together! It's kind of like a lasagna. The recipe calls for a 1.5 qt pan (basically a loaf pan) which I think is way too small. I went with a 3 qt casserole and that fit perfectly.

sprinkle some of the cheese from your reserve bowl on the bottom of the casserole. then add 1/3 of the pasta. Then add 1/3 of the cheese sauce. then add some broccoli. then add more pasta, then more sauce. Repeat. I only had enough broccoli for 2 layers. I made the top layer broccoli though, and then on top of the top broccoli layer I sprinkled the rest of my reserve cheese, and then topped it all with the buttery breadcrumbs.

Put it in the oven at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. We served it with kale salad and rolls. good combo.

here's a look in reverse:

New Year's Desserts: individual mont blancs

I decided that new year's should be decadent and I should make something new, so I decided to attempt to make a "Mont Blanc" a vaguely French, but very popular in Japan dessert that resembles a snow topped mountain. ("White Mountain.") I had brought some chestnut paste (actually Marron Paste) home with me from France in August, and this just seemed like the time to give it a try.

A Mont Blanc is basically a meringue topped with marron paste and egg white- and sugar-spiked whipped cream so that it looks like a mountain. It's a ton of work. I used a few different recipes to try and get it right. Here's one:

And here is what we ended up with...

some disasters (still tasted great!)

some success! (had to pop them right into the fridge though so that they would firm up a little. That whipped cream is real stiff from a beaten egg white, but still not super stable...)

For extra festiveness they were served either on snoopy xmas plates OR on a silver platter. f.a.n.c.y.

In the fridge...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


julekake means "christmas cake" in Norwegian - but really this is a yeast bread with dried fruit bits in it. it's so good.

Julekake - Norwegian Christmas bread: makes two loaves

Mix dry ingredients together in a very large bowl:
1.5 liters of flour
250 grams of sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of cardamom

Prepare your yeast:
mix two packets of dry yeast with 1 deciliter of lukewarm water and 2 teaspoons of sugar
let sit for two minutes

Mix wet ingredients together in a bowl:
400 grams of melted butter (about 3 and a half sticks)
5 deciliters of milk
yeast mixture

Pour the wet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients.
knead with your hands for about ten minutes or using the dough hook on your standmixer
keep extra flour and milk nearby if you need to adjust the texture of your dough
it's ready when it comes together in a ball without leaving bits of itself behind in the bowl.

cover the ball of dough in the ball and let it rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes

put 2 deciliters of raisins and 1 deciliter of candied citrus peel (lemon and/or orange) chopped to about the same size as raisins aside.

When the dough ball has risen by at least 50%, knead the raisins and candied citrus peel into the dough until it is thoroughly incorporated. Then cut the dough in half and shape it into two round balls. Set the balls on a buttered baking sheet in a warm place (on top of your preheating oven, perhaps?) and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise for 45 more minutes.

Brush each loaf with egg white or milk.

Leave the loaves on the cookie sheet and put into preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until quite brown. if they are big they can be raw inside - and it's hard to overcook this guy, it's ok if it gets a little dry, you're going to eat it with butter on it anyways.

Remove from oven and immediately set loaves on to cooling racks. Don't cut into them until they are completely cooled!

The bread will last for quite awhile. It is best eaten toasted with butter. so good.

A story here - this recipe is adapted from the scanned in copies of a norwegian cookbook that's missing a critical page that I got from my mom. So let's just say it has taken some trial and error to get these right! still working on it.

Also, fair warning, this takes about 5 hours to make. And that's if you're on your game.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

creamy beet surprise! pasta

In the usual "oh man it's Tuesday night and we just got all these new vegetables from the farm share we better eat *last* week's vegetables" scramble, I made this tasty pasta.

I started out with a mirepoix in butter. onion, carrot, celery, half a stick of butter. OK fine, a whole stick. Then garlic. Then I wasn't sure what my next move was. I we had beets, so I diced those fine and tossed them in too. Next up? some heavy cream. Or maybe it was half and half. And some milk. and some nutmeg. I let it reduce for serious. And then added a whole bag of spinach (chopped first - the leaves are big!). And then, I wasn't so sure about it, but I went for it, and added a bunch of cheddar cheese. I was worried it would overwhelm the sauce - but actually it was delicious. I cooked it over some delicious cavatappi (a gift from chloe)...

It was darn tasty.

Monday, September 6, 2010

lasagna (avec "votre bechamel"}

While sarah elisabeth was in france with gina marie, we were treated to an amazing lasagna from our friend, Zeke.

Zeke had, of course, gotten the recipe from another woman, but added his own elements. like ricotta and nutmeg.

We loved reading the package of fresh lasagna noodles that we got at Carrefour. It gave very simple instructions on how to make a lasagna (about 5 lines.) The 3rd like Prepare "votre bechamel." that was it, nothing else, because, clearly, you have your own bechamel, so you should prepare it.

All lasagna should have cream sauce, really.

So, I attempted to recreate Zeke's lasagna. It's not quite as good, but it is still pretty delicious.

Here is the recipe I emailed myself:


500 grams low fat ground beef
make ragu
fry in little oil and salt til brown, crispy, done

in another skillet
onion, carrot, celery, little oil

add vegetables to meat

add healthy glass red wine

1 liter stock (if cooking for 3 hours)

1 small can tomato puree
6 fresh tomatoes

1/2 hr before meat is done, prepare votre bechamel:

make a roux: 100g melt butter, add white flour, stir (leave it pretty wet
do NOT remove from heat
add milk until bechamel is satisfying

olive oil in bottom of pan
meat sauce

end with

(extra veg in bechamel layer - zucchini, peppers, etc.)

bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

And that's what I did.