Every month in 2009, I am writing a post detailing some specific things about food in the upcoming month.
I can’t believe it’s already November. This year has really flown by for me. I’m not sure what I’m going to start doing in January instead of food letters. I’ll have to come up with something else for 2010!
What to Eat in November:
Brussel Sprouts – Sprouts get such a bad rap. Cooked correctly, they are in my top five veggies. No question.
Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26) – The big day. It’s really all about food so I don’t really feel a need to link to anything. Roast a turkey, make some mashed potatoes, watch some football. Maybe my favorite holiday.
Day After Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27) – Yes. The day after Thanksgiving is an official holiday. Ok. Maybe not official official. But official in my mind! Take all those leftovers and make a sandwich or just relive Thanksgiving all over again!
Tomorrow I’m participating in this cool bake sale at the U Street Farmer’s market. There’s going to be about a dozen or so food bloggers offering up some delicious baked goods, including yours truly. All of the proceeds go to Martha’s Table. So if you’re looking for a good way to start your Halloween, swing by the Farmer’s Market located on the corner of 14th and U and check out the selection!
If you happen to be in the area, you can read some more info about it here.
It Takes All Sorts of Macarons – For some reason I’ve never tried making macarons. It seems intimidating. Possibly because every time I see them on food blogs they look so fragile and perfect. I’m positive I would destroy them somehow. These look amazing though. (@ Tartlette)
It’s Decorative Gourd Season, $%^#@! – Ok. This is not food related and is also filled with curse words – so don’t read it out loud to any children… But I was actually laughing out loud as I read it because I have a certain fiancee who always gets SUPER-PUMPED over decorative gourds. (@ McSweeney’s)
With only two days until Halloween, you might be looking for something quick to do. And in that regard, I’ve kind of let you down as a food blogger. I’ve posted about homemade gummy worms which most people decided were way to complicated to actually make – although I thought they might be a fun craft project. And I posted a pumpkin spice cupcake recipe that wasn’t hard, but wasn’t fast either.
So this post is all about quick stuff you can throw together 15 minutes before the party. Both of these appetizers are cheese-involved because cheese is a great way to bring some quick flavor to an appetizer dish.
Mozzarella Eyeballs 1 pound fresh mozzarella balls (you can find this in the deli section normally) 1/2 Cup Kalamata or black olives, sliced 1 Jar roasted red peppers Toothpicks Putrefied Cheese Log (Adapted from Martha Stewart. I know her recipe is called "Petrified" but Putrefied is a much better Halloween name in my opinion.) 5 ounces Blue Cheese (honestly you could use any cheese you wanted here I think. Just grate it up if it isn't crumbly.) 5 ounces cream cheese Blue and/or green food coloring (just a few drops) 1/3 Cup Sesame seeds. Black work best, but are also hard to find. I just used regular and toasted them. Crackers
1) Drain red peppers and then give them a spin in a food processor.
2) Cut your olives into slices.
3) Cut a little divet out of each mozz ball so olive fits snugly on top.
4) Put eyeballs together and secure each olive with a toothpick.
For cheese log:
1) Combine blue cheese and cream cheese in a bowl and mush it all together with a fork.
2) Once it is all combined well, then add a few drops of food coloring and work it through the cheeses.
3) Then scoop cheese mixture out onto some plastic wrap. Gently fold the plastic wrap over and roll the cheese into a log. Try to compress the cheese really well so it forms a solid log. Sometimes it helps to twirl the ends around which tightens the plastic wrap around the cheese log.
4) Let this sit in the fridge for a few minutes just to firm up.
5) Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds (if you want) over high heat in a dry pan. They should take about 10 minutes to toast up nicely.
6) Let your sesame seeds cool after toasting and then just roll your cheese long in them and press to down so they stick to the outsides.
7) Serve it with crackers!
This is a really simple dish that you can make in about 15 minutes. In dark lighting it kind of resembles a bloody dish of eyeballs. Always a crowd pleaser.
You can probably see where I’m going with this. First, drain your red peppers and then give them a spin in a food processor. Heck, if you are really in a rush, you could just use tomato sauce here people.
Quick and easy sauce.
Next, cut your olives into slices. Is this even a recipe?
Recently, Betsy had a bake sale at school (yes they still have bake sales in law school) and the options were either A) Nick bakes something or B) Funfetti. Not that I’m dissing on Funfetti… I actually love the stuff, but I figured we might not be the only bake sale participants who thought to bring it.
Given the season, I thought I would make some delicious pumpkin spice cupcakes for Betsy to bring! I topped the pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting because I’m always looking for an excuse to top something in cream cheese frosting. I also threw on some candy corns left over from my cocktail adventures.
A good vessel for cream cheese frosting.
I got this recipe from a really good baker I know who has actually contributed to Macheesmo before. The pumpkin cupcakes are simple to make and have a very interesting twist on the normal cupcake recipe: brown butter. The nuttiness of the butter with the pumpkin and spices was a pretty amazing combo.
It’s always cool to have a really gross dish of treats out for Halloween and these Bloody Worms of DOOM are definitely a winning recipe. I don’t have any kids, but I bet kids would love not only making these but having them out for a Halloween party treat.
The worms are pretty straightforward to make. Basically they are a really sturdy gelatin mold that you mix with cream to produce a kind of milky texture. The cream also gives the worms some great color. Why are these worms of doom? Well, just look at them?! Don’t they fill you with a sense of dread?
There are just a few simple ingredients for these guys. You can make 100 worms for under $10 depending on Oreo costs in your neck of the woods. They were definitely the most expensive part for me.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and so I’ve decided to do a series of posts this week with fun recipes and treats for the upcoming weekend. To kick things off, I thought I would put together some great recipes for cocktails and drinks. Especially given that Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, I’m sure there will be no shortage of parties. Sometimes it’s nice to have a solid cocktail before you start drinking lite beer by the case.
To kick things off, I made this sweet and very orange cordial: The Candy Corn Martini!
Kind of sweet for my tastes...
Ok. So I’m really not big on sweet cocktails and so I didn’t love this specific drink because as you can imagine, it is really sweet. But it’s pretty and very orange and I think I maybe didn’t put in enough lemon juice to balance the sweetness.
Every other weekend, I review a cookbook in an attempt to lend some guidance in a field that has become overrun. These days everyone is writing cookbooks and it’s incredibly upsetting to buy a dud and have it sit on your shelf for years – staring at you, mocking your poor judgment.
If you are a regular Macheesmo reader, it’ll be no surprise to that I like a good pizza pie. Personally, I’m a thin crust kind of guy but on a cold day I can get behind a good deep dish pizza. Any way you slice it though (ha!), there’s nothing like a good piece of pizza.
While it’s an older book, I think it’s worth taking another look at “American Pie” by Peter Reinhart. If you didn’t know, Peter knows baked goods. He’s been called a master bread baker by more than one qualified person and I’ve learned a ton about bread from his other book “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.” So yea, I wanted to check out his thoughts on one of my favorite foods.
The Hunt. Peter is a fantastic writer and I was pulled into the story behind this book. I think it was so appealing to me because I’ve had a similar idea to go on the hunt for the “perfect pizza” whatever that may be.
The moment is one you may have had… you arrive in a town and a friend or lover or family member or complete stranger says that you MUST go to (insert pizza place here) because they make THE BEST pizza. But do they? Do they really?
Well, for the first 80 or so pages of this book, Peter documents his hunt. Now, as a regular cookbook reader, I must say that it’s pretty ballsy to spend the first 80 pages of a book devoted to something other than recipes.
But if you’ve ever had a pizza that is just… heavenly, especially if you have had the privilege of eating at one of the places Peter visits on his quest, I think you’ll enjoy the ride. He’s a great writer and story-teller and he makes his quest for the perfect pizza into an Odyssey of sorts.
But more than that even, it legitimizes him as a pizza authority. After you read (or even skim) these first 80 pages, you’ll know that this guy knows his pizza. And the recipes that are in the last 2/3s of the book are very, very legit.
The Recipes. Before we even get to the recipes, Peter does the right thing and addresses a few issues about making pizza. First, and this is something I completely agree with, crust is 80% of the battle. Figure out how to get a really good crust in your home environment, and you can beat 99% of the pizzas in America. Seriously. He also has a few words about sauces and cheeses, but really most of the introduction is devoted to the crust – and rightfully so.
What I was very happy to see is a number of scenarios for the home baker. A really good pizzeria almost certainly has a brick oven or some other method of cooking the pizza evenly and at very hot temperatures. This is hard to replicate for the home cook, so Peter lays out different scenarios that you may have and how to best approximate a pizzeria crust.
Even the worst scenario (normal oven with no stone or baking tiles) is covered and he has some nice tricks that still produce decent results (I’ve tried one of them.)
Speaking of Crust. Finally on page 103, we get into the recipes. I must say though that I didn’t find this to be a problem at all. The first 100 pages of this book are an awesome read and if they don’t make you excited to make some pizza, well, I don’t know what to tell you.
The first thing that becomes apparent when you get into the recipes is that Peter is not a fan of shortcuts, and with good reason. But at the same time, he makes it clear why each step is necessary in the crust process and he actually makes it all very accessible. There are 12 pizza dough recipes in the chapter and they really span the gambit of doughs – from the super thin to the super thick. My favorite and one that I’ll be trying very soon is the frozen pizza dough that you actually par-bake and then freeze to mimic (but destroy) the store-bought frozen pizza varieties.
In my opinion, this chapter is the most important in the book, the rest is just, well, toppings.
Sauces. Well, there are definitely your standard tomato sauces in this chapter, but that is just the beginning. Peter introduces us to a killer pesto (and a few varieties) along with some spicy, infused oils, eggplant purees, white sauces and even an onion marmalade. All of these, along with the dozen or so of other sauces, would be wonderful on a pie.
Finally, The Pizzas. So the last 90 pages of the book is devoted to actual pizzas. But here’s the thing. After you’ve read the crusts and the sauces, they actual recipes seem almost unnecessary. I mean… he’s given you the building blocks for great pizzas, so start building!
But there are some other details that he gets into in this chapter that will definitely help you out. Things like how to actually shape a pizza correctly and how to pick a cheese or two that will work well with your pizza. Important stuff no doubt. He also gets you started with about 30 or 40 actual pizza recipes (dough, sauce, cheese, toppings all together). But the variations on each of these recipes is pretty much endless. The point is that he does a fantastic job of giving you the tools and info you need.
So, if you happen to live in one of the cities that is considered a pizza haven, then this book will give you the tools to produce similar results – close to your favorite pizzeria. But, I think this book might be even more important for someone living in say, rural Wyoming where I’m from. The best pizza we have there is from the local Pizza Hut. If that’s the case, using the tips and recipes in this book, I would bet you can make the best pizza in a 100 mile radius.