Things I Did This Weekend: Hosted A Halloween Dress Rehearsal
Bacon likes to lay on the stairs all weird, like he was meant to be the subject of Thomas Couture’s Odalisque: The Dog Edition. But he does this when he’s waiting for someone. Especially puppy friends.
My go-to pie dough is a variation of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s from The Pie and Pastry Bible. Every once in awhile, I’ll try different dough recipes because I might learn something new from the experience. The most recent recipe I tried though ended up being a total disaster (thanks a lot, internet /sarcasm). It turned out soft and sticky, too difficult to work with. It’s possible that I did something wrong but I read those damn direction so many times. So. Many. Times. Maybe there was a typo?
I thought about throwing out the dough because I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. I also thought about adding more flour but sometimes it screws up the gluten and makes the dough tough. I ended up cutting-out baby maple leaves because it seemed like a good idea for some illogical reason. As anticipated it ended up looking fucked up, like an apple pie made by a third grader who hated arts and crafts class:
Despite the ugliness, I was pretty pleased with the filling I made so I decided to give it another go. Luckily, I had tons of extra apples, another pear, and an box of emergency pie dough (because I am the kind of person who would keep things like that) so I made another pie.
My mom loves shopping. Loves. Whether it’s high-end boutiques or discount stores, she loves them all. In my elementary school years, I always had to tag along on these little adventures and I hated it. Unsurprisingly, I grew up to be a shopping-hating minimalist adult due to all that repressed childhood trauma — I did get lost at a Woolworth’s once. I will have to say though that if it weren’t for these trips, I would have never 1.) been one of Vogue's youngest avid readers (or acquired the ability to quickly identify a Halston dress) thanks to my mom's giant purse of stuff, 2.) learned to haggle, or 3.) been able to figure out how to entertain myself quietly — seeing how many cocktail rings I can put on one finger is something that I still do to this day because I am an asshole sometimes. (Don't worry. I try to put the rings back to their original place even though I do not have a photographic memory.)
Although my mom is a costume jewelry collector and a bit of a clothes horse, her favorite things to buy are actually kitchen gadgets and small appliances. One day, she bought one of those newfangled inventions called…a bread machine. Not quite aware that the bread machine only made loaves, I was excited for it because I was under the impression that you could make things like mantou and stuffed pork buns in it. Sadly, what came out of that thing were the grainy, dense breads like whole wheat and rye. I hated eating this homemade bread crap and I would try to load it up with PB&J because I was already a lunchroom outcast for not having Wonder Bread and Fruit Roll-Ups in my lunch box. Do you know how awful it is to try to trade a whole wheat sandwich for a Capri Sun? You get laughed at.
Now that I’m old and more food experienced, I really like dense breads for various reasons. Sometimes a hearty dense loaf gives a nutty flavor to the sandwich and other times, it compliments the texture of a squishy sandwich with peanut butter and bananas. It’s kind of weird and interesting to think about how our tastes change as we age, don’t you think? I mean, my 8 year old self would be appalled, wondering why I couldn’t just live off of Yan Yan and chocolate Dunkaroos because adults can eat whatever the hell they want.
Today’s recipe post is about rye bread. You’ll encounter some rye breads with all or mostly rye flour but I find these proportions too dense. For this recipe, there’s enough all-purpose flour to soften the flavor and texture but doesn’t overpower the rye. There’s no point in making rye bread if it doesn’t taste like rye.
I have this really annoying bottle of apple pie schnapps that I have been trying to figure out how to use. I figured that if they make a schnapps in this oh-so-very specific flavor then there must be a market out there, perhaps there’s this movement of cocktail-trendsetters who are using it for their new concoctions. Well, it turns out I was so very wrong.
You think that internet would have tons of information and ideas but it was actually unhelpful. A lot of the usage suggestions out there all tell you to take the apple pie schnapps in a shot form of some sort and frankly, I wasn’t inspired or interested by any of that. The cocktail suggestions were even worse. Like really bad. For example, there’s a drink called the “I Like To Drink" which has vodka, gin, Everclear, apple schnapps, whiskey, tequila, moonshine, and something called Slush Puppie. Whoever invented this cocktail had a serious death wish or the burning desire to puke out their insides in one go. Don’t even get me started on "Ass" or "Tree Smacker".
Because I like to keep things classy and simple here on f&f, I decided to combine apple pie schnapps and bourbon. I mean, I think it’s okay but then again, I think bourbon tastes good with a lot of things.
What kind of recipes or content do you want to see next on this blog? More savory stuff? More sweets? OR maybe there’s an edible crazy idea in your head that you’re not sure how to execute? Do you want more swearing? Less swearing? More stories? Less stories?
Today’s recipe post isn’t a real recipe post because there’s no recipe in this post.
Before you whip out your pitchforks, the recipe for this cake is actually published in Issue 2 of Driftless — you can pick up or order the issue online. I know it’s a really shitty thing of me to go “Look! A recipe! But not really, just kidding! Go buy this magazine!” and stuff so I figured I should share the published and unpublished food pr0n photos of this rich dessert. Exclusive photos, you guys!
If you Google alfajores, you’ll get all kind of results because there are two main kinds of alfajores but they look quite different from each another: Spanish alfajores look like chewy nut rolls dusted in powdered sugar while the South American ones are basically dulce de leche sandwich cookies — you’ll even find some versions that are made with ground grains and/or are covered in chocolate or coconut. For this recipe post, I made very basic South American alfajores.
I had my first bite of an alfajor at a work event somewhere in lower Manhattan years ago. I immediately fell in love with the delicate, buttery cookies that kind of melted around the decadent dulce de leche filling. It gets me every time! Maybe that’s why I love the dulce de leche cookies from work so much…
"Not only do nearly 40 percent of employees live in poverty, many have also experienced sexual harassment on the job. According to a devastating new report from the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC), “sexual harassment is endemic to the restaurant industry.” The figures in the 34-page report titled The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry are shocking to say the least. For example, just under 70 percent of all female employees and nearly 50 percent of male employees have “experienced some form of sexual harassment” from their managers. Plus, 90 percent of female employees and 70 percent of male employees have reported experiencing sexual harassment from customers.”
There are so many reasons as to why there’s more sexual harassment in this industry than others (lack of living wage -> lack of professionalism, lack of female presence…etc.) but I think kitchen culture is a huge, if not the main, part of it — I mean, I did learn some dirty Spanish and slang* from the various male dominated restaurant kitchens but man, some of the things you would hear would just kill the hearts of any supporter of gender equality.
I made two cups of dulce de leche this weekend because it’s an important ingredient for the recipe post I’ll be publishing later this week. For those of you who aren’t familiar with dulce de leche, this sauce is gooey and sweet like caramel but it’s made from sweetened condensed milk. You can make one of the most delicious cookies in the world with dulce de leche, but did you know that they make terrific coffee sweeteners too?
Even though I usually take my coffee black, I’ll swirl in a heaping tablespoon of dulce de leche if I have it around. It’s pretty dangerous.
So you might be like hey I like cheeseburgers but I’m hungry and I don’t know how to make one myself, or maybe you’re like hey wouldn’t it be great if you had something that tasted like a cheeseburger but was small enough to dip into ketchup and was more portable than a burger and better than sliders?
If you said “no”, change your answer because I made cheeseburger hand pies. This concoction, created out of curiosity, hovers between the lines of WTF and Yum because I’m a sucker for things that are tiny and things that can be used as vessels for ketchup.
I was given these two gigantic — GIGANTIC! — eggplants the other day and I couldn’t stop thinking about how good they would be in a layered casserole.
I cut the eggplants into thin lengthwise strips and treated them like lasagna noodles. Once you layer that shit up with some sauce and cheese, you get a lasagna-less lasagna.
I hope I blew your mind with that.
This hot, veggie-filled casserole is the perfect cold weather dinner. It’s also gluten-free as long as your sauce is too. As for the vegans and vegetarians out there, this dish has pork and cheese in it but it can be veganized with things like tofu ricotta, Field Roast Italian grain meat sausage, and cheese substitutes.
I’ve been trying to get my sister into baking especially because she’s vegan and she often forgets to check the ingredient list on packages. When you have dietary restrictions, it’s sometimes easier to DIY since you have more control over the ingredients and the products. Baking is pretty scientific though and one would assume that it would come naturally to my science-minded sister [with a legit science occupation] — it would be the perfect new hobby for her.
We made these vegan chocolate avocado cookies together recently but it was a little stressful for me. No! Stop measuring it like that! Don’t mix it like that. STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING! I’m normally not a nag like that but I think it’s just one of those annoying things you do when you’re around your [younger] siblings.
If baked goods were potentially explosive [Edit: Wait…], she would probably be a little more careful about substitutions and measurements…etc. The next time we bake together, I’ll have to explain things like a lab procedure, put the soy milk in pipettes, and weigh the ingredients like the classically trained pastry chefs do.
I spent my entire Sunday making this super soft Asian milk bread. I’ll be making this again…and again...and again! The house smells like a Taiwanese bakery* and I’m already thinking about making a few more loaves — I really want to create a chicken pot pie and Taiwanese coffin bread (棺材板) mash-up recipe!
"Feeling [unsure] and lost is part of your path. Don’t avoid it. See what those feelings are showing you and use it. Take a breath. You’ll be okay. Even if you don’t feel okay all the time."
I’m not gonna lie — it’s been a super long week for me so I’ve been really looking forward to a quiet night in to, you know, reflect or something. I think it’s a bourbon kind of a night but my big bottle of St Germain is calling my name.
“There’s one thing that I have to thank him for though: if it weren’t for him, I may not have re-discovered my love for food or pursued my current career path. In fact, I would have never continued my career in food if it weren’t for him, divorce or no divorce.”—Read the rest of my guest post at Married to a Chef
There’s something kinda embarrassing I have to admit: when I make dips, the questionable 90’s hit by Freak Nasty, “Da Dip”, pops into my head sometimes. It conjures up memories of awkward middle school dances, a stupid fun fact that really shows my age. It was a terrible song but it’s obviously left an impression on me. I don’t know where or what Freak Nasty is doing now but you do you, Freak. You do you.
“Daily I walk around my small, picturesque town with a thought bubble over my head: Person Going Through A Divorce. When I look at other people, I automatically form thought bubbles over their heads. Happy Couple With Stroller. Innocent Teenage Girl With Her Whole Life Ahead Of Her. Content Grandmother And Grandfather Visiting Town Where Their Grandchildren Live With Intact Parents. Secure Housewife With Big Diamond. Undamaged Group Of Young Men On Skateboards. Good Man With Baby In BabyBjörn Who Loves His Wife. Dogs Who Never Have To Worry. Young Kids Kissing Publicly. Then every so often I see one like me, one of the shambling gaunt women without makeup, looking older than she is: Divorcing Woman Wondering How The Fuck This Happened.”
-from Suzanne Finnamore’s Split
Divorce is a hell of a lot different than a break-up because it’s the death of a marriage. You try to deal, keep busy, and live your life — you just have to or at least try to figure out how. However, things get messy when you throw the restaurant industry into the mix: there aren’t any resources or books out there that tells you what to do when divorce things are happening (or has already happened) when one (or both) work in an industry that talks. Everyone knows someone who knows you. Or they know you. Or they recognize you.
Going out to restaurants/bars can get awkward because you get paranoid. You avoid certain places, places that you love, because you just never know… Things feel awkward. You get awkward. Things actually get awkward. But the paranoia is necessary because you have to be cautious and you have to watch out for yourself. Because of the culture, a severed relationship can sometimes mean severed ties for opportunities. It’s tricky territory and like I said, there are no books (to my knowledge) out there that give you advice on what to do [as an ex chef wife] especially when your lives are so intertwined. I was given the best advice about this last night: just live your life.
You don’t want the paranoia to get the best of you or drain all that potential energy to do something great.
I love salads — all the fresh fruits and vegetables!!! — and I’m always in the mood for a salad, a big salad*, at least once a week. It makes me feel healthy even though I tend to overdo the dressing and load it with tons of [not so healthy] stuff.
I rarely write salad recipe posts though. When I make salads for myself I tend to toss together whatever produce I have on hand. There’s not a whole lot to post/write about because face it, you would be inundated with posts that say things like “look what random healthy shit I decided to slap together and call a salad today!” It may sound exciting, creative, or lazy to some, but my salad routine is actually super boring and it’s getting to the point that it’s all starting to taste the same. Hoping to get out of a boring salad rut, I started to look at salads from other countries for inspiration. Salad Niçoise, karedok, horiatiki salata, salpicón de res…I had ground sumac on hand so fattoush, an Arabic bread salad, caught my eye.
A traditional fattoush uses toasted or fried pita bread and a variety of chopped vegetables like purslane, radishes, and mint. The salad is tossed in dressing but the dressing is what makes this salad unique. You get a nice unique tang from the sumac, a purple-ish spice made from sumac berries, that makes every bite savory and refreshing.
To make this salad my own, I added a variety of sliced vegetables (and fruits, if you wanna get all specific), omitted purslane (which I could not find) and made it more about the leafy greens. I also used pita chips instead of toasting my own because I already had pita chips on hand.
It seemed like just yesterday I was wearing sundresses and sandals and now, it’s that weird in-between weather where you have to put on layers (because a coat is still too heavy). My morning routine is twice as long these days because I’ve been wasting time debating whether I should wear a sweater or not. I make the wrong decision 50% of the time anyways because Minnesota weather is very deceptive. It may look sunny and cheery outside but don’t let appearances fool you. NO, I AM NOT FREEZING AT ALL. I’M JUST FINE. SOAKIN’ UP SOME ‘RAYS. THANKS. *shivers*
Because fall officially starts next Tuesday so I figured we should prepare for it by drinking sangria because we all know booze warms you up (uh, sort of).
I know we normally associate this pitcher cocktail with summer but you can totally turn it into a fall drink by adding warm spices and tons of apples.
What makes my sangria really special is the homemade apple juice that goes in it.
Actually, I think it’s technically a cider.
Some of you might be wondering, “Does it even matter?” Yes. Yes, it does. To figure out the difference between apple juice and apple cider, grab a quart of each and compare them! They differ in flavor and coloring; the former tends to be clearer and sweeter while the latter tends to be cloudy and, uh, earthy — in the U.S., cider (pasteurized and unpasteurized) is generally unfiltered while juice is filtered which explains the whole cloudy thing.
“Whisking gallons of double cream in a bowl as big as a baby elephant and lifting heavy machinery meant that my right bicep was soon much bigger than my left one. I mentioned this once to a colleague who replied, ‘Oh, that’s nothing. Just wait until your sleeve stops fitting on one arm and you have to buy a bigger size to accommodate it.’”—from “Professional Bakers Are Lopsided and Burnt to Shit”
*Note: Thanks for subscribing, new tumblr subscribers! I’m so close to XX,XX! (Sharing this already makes me feel vain so I feel even weirder about sharing the actual number. Advertisers and sponsors: I do have a press kit…)