thursday things – DNA Tests, Ikea candy, and more

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Summer is in full swing here and it’s so hot that our local news has completely given up on even attempting to forecast the high temps. Today’s high temp is “- -” … maybe tomorrow they can just be honest and put some question marks or an interrobang. Or just pull a Siri and put a big fat “HOT” up there instead of numbers at all…

We live in a world where fast food conglomerates have resorted to DNA testing to prove that they aren’t serving rodents.

And where people are tackling real world problems, like my inability to mix a cocktail. Now thanks to this Kickstarter, I won’t have to!

The very same Amy’s Kitchen that has been providing veggie-friendly freezer meals is now opening their very first vegetarian fast food restaurant!

Ikea is adding “candy conglomerate” to its list of descriptors.

If you’re planning to cool off this summer with homemade ice cream, here are some great tips for making it great.

Martha Stewart has sold off her empire.

NY Times tells us how to really eat on the cheap while traveling.

Now you can get the most of your meals by pairing foods to optimize your nutrition absorption.

This guy shows how much it sucks to be a woman, or to eat like one at least.

Get a kick out of watching Elmo and Jimmy Fallon show us how to make waffled grilled cheese and “Sloppy Oscars.”

cherry clafoutis

cherry clafoutis 0840

Cherry season is in full swing and we take advantage of these few short weeks be packing our refrigerator full of cherries – both red and rainier. We generally eat them plain, enjoying the sweet, firm fruit as an after-dinner or mid-day snack. However, I wanted to get a little creative to see what else I could do with these guys.

Clafoutis is something that I have been meaning to make for awhile now, not quite understanding what it was. Is it cake? Custard? What does it taste like? Where does it come from?

Well, the only way to get my answer was to finally buck-up and make the darn thing, so I did, with the help of this article from Serious Eats. And now I have my answers. The flavor is very similar to that of a dutch baby but with a thicker, richer, more custard-y center. The center should be set, so it won’t be pudding-style creamy, but it will still be soft and almost pillowy.

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Cherries are traditional, but if that’s not your style you can substitute stone fruits like apricot or peach, or probably even berries would do (though they may be more prone to bursting). I left my cherries whole but did pit them as our annual cherry consumption warrants owning this helpful little gadget – which makes pitting cherries easy as pie. (Well, probably easier than pie, actually.) You can halve the cherries if you like or leave the pits in, but I find that would make eating the clafoutis much less enjoyable.

While traditionally served for dessert, I think this would fare equally as well as a breakfast or brunch dish in place of a dutch baby, pancakes, or other bready sweet. Plus it has fruit, which means it’s good for you! You can enjoy your clafoutis warm or room temperature, or cold from the fridge for a midnight snack. I recommend a gentle dusting of powdered sugar, though it will still be delicious plain, or with a healthy dollop of whipped cream – the choice is yours!

cherry clafoutis

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 1 9 or 10-inch clafoutis (serves 8 - 10)

Serving Size: 1 slice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 3/4 pound sweet cherries, pitted
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
  • Whipped cream , for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and butter a 9-inch or 10-inch cast iron or nonstick skillet. (I used this one)
  2. Scatter cherries (or other fruit) into the bottom of the buttered pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, sugar, and salt until combined.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free.
  5. Pour batter into the pan, over the fruit, and place pan on a baking sheet (in case it overflows) and carefully place into the oven.
  6. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the center is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Cool slightly before serving. Serve directly from the pan or carefully transfer onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!
http://wee-eats.com/2015/06/23/cherry-clafoutis/

[ Recipe from Serious Eats ]

mom’s stromboli

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Everyone has that one dish that takes them back home. No matter where they may be at the time, one bite of this dish will immediately transport them back to a moment long gone. One bite, and they are back in the kitchen with grandma or sitting at the table with family. For me, this dish has always been my mom’s stromboli.

As shocking as it may seem to people who know me now, growing up I was a very picky eater. My childhood diet can basically consisted of ramen noodles, peanut butter, and Reese’s cups. More often than not, I complained regardless of what my poor mom put in front of me on the dinner table. However, one of the very few meals I would eat without a single complaint was my mom’s stromboli, and she would never hesitate to make it at my request.

She made many types of stromboli, but when I asked for it she knew exactly what that meant – the one stuffed with her homemade meatballs. Nevermind that it meant making a batch of fresh meatballs for her obnoxious, picky daughter, or that it meant she was stuck in the kitchen forever, only to then be tasked with not only preparing and cooking these items, but then protecting the fresh-out-of-the-oven meatballs from hungry passers by.

Of course you don’t have to make your own meatballs, and I rarely do. I never quite nailed mom’s meatball recipe, so I’ll be the first to admit that I would rather save the time and pick up an order of my favorite meatballs from one of our local Italian restaurants to chop up and use those instead. Mom’s favorite was stuffed to the brim with ham and melty provolone cheese, and she rewarded herself with one of those whenever stromboli was on the menu.

stromboli

You could, of course, fancy this up by using your favorite homemade white bread, dinner roll, or pizza dough recipe, but I use a trusty box of Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix, because that’s what mom always used. You could argue that you don’t really save any time with that, as it’s basically just pre-portioned flour and salt with a packet of dough, but old habits die hard and I’ve yet to make a dough from scratch that can replicate the Pillbsury box mix. Plus, it wouldn’t have the same nostalgic feel when I made it.

It’s crazy how the connections we make through food can last a lifetime. The smell of this stromboli in the oven always takes me back to mom’s too-warm kitchen, the towel she would always have draped over her shoulder while she cooked, and the inevitable burns on my fingers from trying to snag a fresh-baked meatball before mom could resign it to its bready fate.

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It’s been almost two years since she’s been gone, but it feels like just yesterday we were laughing so hard that we cried, and I still reach for my phone to call her for comfort at the end of a bad day. No matter how old you are, losing a parent is the one thing that forces you to finally grow up. No matter how old I was, I was always still her “little girl,” but now I’m just me – the me that she helped to mold and shape. Today would have been her 54th birthday and even though I can’t laugh with her anymore and I won’t be able to sing her “Happy Birthday” today (not without looking like a crazy person singing to myself, at least), I can still feel close to her when I make her recipes.

Happy birthday, mom. <3

mom’s stromboli

Yield: 2 strombolis

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 1 box Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix (or 1 pound homemade dinner roll or pizza dough)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • For the filling
  • Meats/cheeses of your preference, recommended:
  • Meats: cooked meatballs tossed in sauce, sliced ham, pepperoni, salami, etc...
  • Cheeses: Melty cheeses like provolone, mozzarella, fontina, etc...
  • Optional: Fresh basil or spinach, roughly chopped
  • Additional
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • Warm pizza sauce, for serving

Instructions

    Prepare your ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F degrees. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment and set aside.
  2. Prepare your filling ingredients, ex: slice or shred cheeses, if meatballs are too large quarter or chop them, etc. It's helpful if the fillings are close to room temperature rather than refrigerator-cold.
  3. Make the dough
  4. If using a different dough, ignore the dough ingredients list above and prepare per your own directions.
  5. If using Hot Roll Mix, combine hot roll mix and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and whisk to mix well.
  6. Add hot water and butter, and mix briefly on low to moisten the flour mixture.
  7. Add egg and continue mixing until a soft dough forms.
  8. Switch to a dough hook and continue mixing until the dough is smooth, it may be slightly tacky but should not be not wet or sticky. Add additional all-purpose flour, one tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too wet. *(see note below)
  9. Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and divide in half. Cover dough with a kitchen towel and let rest for five minutes before continuing
  10. Assemble the stromboli
  11. Take one half of the dough and roll out on a lightly-floured surface. Roll into a rectangle roughly 13-by-10 inches in size. It can be slightly larger or slightly smaller, you don't want the dough to be too thin or it will rip when you try to roll it, however if it is too small then it will be difficult to roll.
  12. Top rectangle with desired fillings, ex: top with meatballs, then with cheese, leaving a 1-inch border. If you want to put some sauce inside the stromboli, be sure to use a very light hand with the sauce or it will end up just bubbling out of the dough. I usually leave sauce to be served on the side (with the exception of meatballs which i lightly toss in sauce prior to putting inside the stromboli).
  13. Roll the stromboli from the long end, folding it over itself similar to how you would roll cinnamon rolls.
  14. Lightly dampen the long edge that will seal the roll with water before completing the seal and press firmly to seal. Fold the ends under the roll to seal the ends.
  15. Carefully transfer the stromboli roll to your parchment-lined baking sheet and cut slits into the top to vent.** (see note below)
  16. Repeat with second half of dough.
  17. Cover stromboli with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. (I usually leave mine on top of the preheated oven to let it rise.)
  18. Bake stromboli
  19. When stromboli has lightly poofed, brush with an egg wash. If desired, you may sprinkle herbs or parmesan cheese on top - I find this is especially helpful if I have two stromboli that I want to be able to tell apart. I will sprinkle one with a topping and leave the other without.
  20. Bake stromboli for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown on outside and inside if fully-cooked. If the stromboli browns too quickly, cover lightly with a sheet of foil and continue cooking.
  21. Remove from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
  22. Serve with warmed sauce on the side.

Notes

* You may also knead the dough by hand if you are more patient than I am. It comes together pretty quickly, I just prefer to use the dough hook.

**To transfer my stromboli, I usually extend my arm parallel to the stromboli and gently roll it onto my arm. I then rest it on my arm until I get to the pan and gently roll it off my arm and onto the pan.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/06/19/moms-stromboli/

christina tosi’s cornbake

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Since receiving Milk Bar Life as a gift, I’ve been making an effort to bake my way through some of the recipes with varying degrees of success. I was most excited for the Grandma’s Oatmeal Cookies. While delicious, I have yet to get them to come out the texture that is portrayed in the book pictures, so I have not yet shared that recipe for you (though Mr. Eats is happy to keep eating the failed attempts for me). I successfully made Tosi’s gorgeous Fruity Pebble Meringues, and now I have made what Mr. Eats has deemed “the best cornbread he’s ever had.”

This recipe, like most of Tosi’s recipes, is very generous in the butter department. I followed the recipe as written, because I wanted to see how it came out. While it was delicious as-written I think that you could easily reduce the amount of butter by at least a half a stick without any issues, and I plan to make it that way going forward. If you’re too scared to make that big of a change (that’s about 1/4 of the butter called for), you can reduce it by less.

The recipe calls for a 10-inch round cake pan or a 9-inch square pan. Luckily, I own neither of those so I baked it in a 9-inch round pan with very high edges instead, which added about 8 minutes to the baking time. You will know the cornbake is done with the center is not jiggly at all and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out almost completely clean, with a few crumbs sticking to it. If the cake browns too much before it has completed baking, cover the top loosely with a sheet of foil and continue to bake until it is finished.

This cornbake is great served slightly warm, but even better the next day. You can rewarm pieces in the microwave for a few seconds, or just sneak them off of the serving dish and eat them cold while no one’s watching. Either way, a generous drizzle of honey (I’ve been a big fan of this one from Trader Joe’s as of late) is highly recommended.

milk bar life’s cornbake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 1 10-inch loaf

Ingredients

    Dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Wet ingredients
  • 8 ounces whole-fat sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can creamed corn
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)* unsalted butter, melted (see note below)
  • 1 cup fresh cooked sweet corn (you may use frozen, but be sure to thaw it to room temperature first)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey, plus more for serving
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees and prepare a 10-inch round baking pan with butter or nonstick spray.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until combined.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until completely mixed.
  4. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and fold them in with a spatula until well combined and no more flour streaks remain.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few crumbs sticking to it.
  6. Cool in its pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert out of pan to complete cooling.
  7. Bread is best served slightly warm and drizzled with honey.

Notes

* I have a feeling that you could easily reduce the butter here by a half stick (4 Tablespoons) without any issue, however I wanted to test the recipe as-written, for science.

* Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature. If your ingredients are too cold, the melted butter will solidify into regular butter and you will be very sad.

* Fresh or frozen sweet corn would work here, just make sure it is at room temperature along with the rest of your ingredients. I suspect a generous helping (1/4 to 1/2 cup) of green chiles would do well in this, too.

http://wee-eats.com/2015/06/16/cornbake-from-milk-bar-life/

[ Recipe from Milk Bar Life ]

thursday things – i got a new fitbit and some other stuff

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Last week I told you all about our trip to San Francisco, from which I think my favorite souvenir was this tiny treeling that Mr. Eats picked up. We finally got it planted over the weekend – that being said, I have a notoriously black thumb so it may not survive for another week.

But if it does… HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE? Our very own baby giant sequoia tree!

I got a fancy new fiitbit! Look how excited it is when I hit my 10,000 steps!

It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I’m going to need all those steps, too, because I just found out that my beloved Shake Shack will be opening a restaurant here in my very own hometown! I’M SO EXCITED I COULD DIE.

On top of that, Starbucks released 6 brand new frappuccinos for us all to try.

And Dairy Queen released a Jurassic World blizzard with chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter, and chocolate chunks… so, guess I should get stepping then…

Shannon kicked up the Just One Question Project again – which is a great read for anyone who has a blog or is thinking of starting one. She’s also recently redesigned her site and IT’S FREAKING GORGEOUS so you should probably stop by and take a look-see if you haven’t seen it yet.

These gummy bear reviews on Amazon will likely make your day.

HuffPo shared an infographic of how long you can freeze all the things.

Pinch of Yum shared her favorite uses for her food processor (and why you should probably get one).

I Am a Food Blog shares her secrets to a great basic chocolate chip cookie.

Serious Eats has cracked the code for perfect scrambled eggs, no matter how you like them.

The Kitchn finally settled the argument between Mr. Eats and I about whether or not you should rinse your pasta when its done cooking.

And Taco Bell is going au naturale.

And… goats in pajamas! Because, goats!