Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm packing up.

I rented a u-haul and I'm taking all my snarky comments and tough cookie-ness over here, hope to see you there.

-Brass Knuckle Baker

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hey Anthony, I have some reservations.

I finally got around to re-watching the Rust Belt episode of Anthony Bourdans No Reservations, and this time I have time to comment...

HEY! TONY! I know that you have beef with Baltimore, you know, cause when you lived here you were a raging junkie-alcoholic ass-hat with no friends but do you really need to take it out on my 'hood? 

Don't get me wrong, I love you and your delightful snarky-ness on other shows, me and the Mancub thoroughly enjoy watching No Reservations on a normal basis...but you dropped that ball this round. 

Nothing makes me want to beat you with a bottle more then watching your "rust belt" episode. I'm sure if you had given us more then 15 minutes air time you could of afforded us the luxury of leaving the areas of Baltimore that are complete shit holes, way to only film in one particular area with a not so great track record.

Aside from Chaps Pit Beef, ( delightfully stationed next to The Gold Club at 5801 Pulaski Highway...let me tell you strip clubs aren't a fun or funny the next morning when your looking for your credit card) the other two places weren't really worth mentioning. 

Mo's seafood and The Roost?!  Thanks Tony, yes that's TOTALLY where I eat... Ok I'll admit I've eaten at Mo's. It was under duress and I think I drank my meal instead of chewed but if a born and bred Maryland girl wants a crab cake the respectable thing to do is MAKE IT YOURSELF! nothing makes a crab cake better then the battle scars you get from picking 20 steamed blue crabs, caked with old don't go to Mo's. 

What about Brewers art, The Charleston, Rocket to Venus, Woodberry Kitchen, Blue Moon Cafe ( Captn' Crunch french toast anyone?!) any of the tortillarias in Baltimore's teeny tiny missions district ?! Yeah, why go any place that a Baltimore person would actually eat.

And tony, I KNOW you've been here when you were sober, there are pictures of you at sound garden to prove it, there's delicious food real close to there... I know cause I've gorged on it. 

Though, I DO give you points for not dropping in on Duff Goldman at Charm City Cakes.... Cause their cakes are way to expensive and taste disgusting... but had you SKIPPED CCC and stopped next door at the dizz you would have gotten a delicious burger..Just sayin' Tony. FAIL.

Cock sauce!

Oh my fucking god, can everyone just take a moment to bask in the glory that is Sriracha?! 

not my photo, I'm not an asshole, I just think my camera sucks ass. 

You know it - it's the asian hot sauce with the little green tip. maybe you called  it "Rooster" for the picture of the rooster on the front I personally like calling it cock sauce, I always like working a little blue especially when it comes to food. 

For some reason no matter how new the bottle is its always half used, and no matter how long you've had it you never seem to use all of it.

I don't know what it is about sriracha that makes me want to put it on everything. Everything, I say, from fried eggs tomac-n-cheese to sandwiches.. burns like the devils hands. 

but let me tell you, burning off all your taste buds never felt so freakin' good. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When life hands you apples...

Make apple tarts! Or rather apple galettes because sometimes I just don't feel like making pretty pastries *gasp!* yes I know, I'm all about the aesthetics but sometimes quick and rustic is better then painstakingly beautiful. 

Mancub and I bought apples at a green market, thinking we were getting super delicious and portable snacks, Think again! They were much to tart to eat on their lonesome, so they've been sitting in our fridge looking sad and unloved. So I figured I would show them love, by chopping them up and cooking them. 

First come first the pie crust! 
Now usually I'm a fan of using lard for making pie crusts, it's how my grandma taught me so that how I like it. But for some reason Superfresh AND Giant don't carry it wft super-market?! So I surrendered and decided to go to my butter pie crust recipe standby. 


8 tablespoons chilled butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (For the apple tart I omit the salt and add a handful of grated or finely shopped parmesan cheese)
1/4 cup ice water

4 apples, peeled cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces 
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/8 cup sugar


Place butter in freezer for 15 minutes. When ready to use, remove and cut both into small pieces.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt(or cheese) by pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add butter and pulse 5 to 6 times until texture looks mealy.

 Remove lid of food processor and spritz surface of mixture thoroughly with water. Replace lid and pulse 5 times. Add more water and pulse again until mixture holds together when squeezed. 

Place mixture in large zip-top bag, squeeze together until it forms a ball, and then press into a rounded disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to roll out. 

Roll out the dough and put into a cake pan( YES a CAKE PAN), don't bother about the overhang, you'll be folding it over in the end.

after rolling out the dough everything is easy-peasy, place apple slices in the pan as orderly or haphazardly as you wish, remember messy pies taste just as good as picture perfect ones! 

Top with sugar, cinnamon and dot with butter. Fold the extra pie dough over the edges and get ready to bake.

bake at 400 degrees for approximately 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and tempting enough to stick your fingers in the oven and grab a chunk of it... DON"T though, it hurts, ask me how I know.

Now the only thing you need is a little ice cream, and maybe if youre feeling civilized; a fork. 

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Macaron, Attempt #1

I've never eaten a French Macaron before, yet somehow over the past six months I've become down right obsessed with these little sweet almond confections. Maybe its the wonderful colors that I never see in regular cookies, or the fact that they take a little more skill to make then classic American favorites. Or maybe its for the much simpler reason; so pretty! 
Macarons are like little jewels but better because you can eat them !

But I just kept seeing them everywhere, on the covers of books (which incidentally made NO MENTION OF THEM on its pages..false advertisement if you ask me!), In Sex and the City episodes, on MTV, MTV!! of all places...I knew I had to make them and then learn to master them.
Macarons are a traditional French pastry, made of egg whitesalmond powder, confectioners sugar and granulated sugar. This pastry  comes out as a round meringue-like domes with a flat base. PLEASE don't confuse these with the American coconut Macaroon... that's a whole 'nother animal that I don't even like. French Macarons are crispy and chewy and moist and nutty and have FILLING, yep that's right, double trouble! Cause these little babies are turned into sandwich cookies.

Only five ingredients for super cute deliciousness?! Yes please! 

225 Grams of Confectioners Sugar
125 Grams Almond Flour*
110 Grams Egg Whites , aged overnight and at room temperature**
30 Grams Granulated Sugar
Pinch Salt

* I found almond flour at our local organic/health food grocers, its in the refrigerator section, and a little pricey. If you can't find almond flour you can put almonds in the food processor with some of the confectioners sugar and go crazy with the pulse button until the right texture is reached.
** Aging the egg whites helps when beating the whites, not only do they whip faster but they tend not to break if you over whip them. Its suggested that you age only the whites but that tends to give me the heebie-jeebies so I just put the entire thing, egg shell and all, on the counter and let them sit overnight... and voila! when you wake up they're aged AND room temperature, hey two birds, meet one stone. 

Combine almond flour and confectioners sugar, if the almond flour is particularly lumpy either push the mixture through a sieve or pulse in a food processor.

Whip egg whites with salt on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the granulated sugar . Continue to beat until the egg whites reach a stiff peak. This is the time to add food coloring, for this trial run I used regular liquid food coloring drops but I wouldn't recommend it, you cant get super saturated colors and even for the pastel color I achieved I had to use a tremendous amount of coloring. Next time I plan on using Gel food coloring , like Wiltons, which are used for coloring Icing. 

with a rubber spatula, fold in almond flour/sugar mix, mixture should deflate a little and flow like magma ( don't you love recipes that use the term MAGMA!?)
Pipe batter onto parchment lined baking sheet in 1 1/2 inch circles. Tap the bottom of the pan to remove excess bubbles, then let  rest uncovered for 1-2 hours ( this is a VITAL part of the equation, the top surface dries out enough to create the smooth shell, one of the things that makes a macaron a macaron)

Bake at 325 degrees of 10-11 minutes, keep the oven door propped open slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Let the cookies cool and fill, if you don't plan on eating these immediatly you can freeze the cookies unfilled in the freezer.  

For my first attempt I think I did pretty well, another thing I think I need to ask santa for is a real piping bag. Let a lesson be learned here.... a Ziploc bag with a hole cut in it does not always work as well as a real honest to goodness pastry bag with tips. I piped them a little to large , there was soo much cookie-sweetness that I thought that adding a filling would be a sugar overload so I'm leaving that until the next time I make these 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Brownie Cookies

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a typical girl, and mainly for this one reason.... I don't really like chocolate.

YES, I know, I'm gonna get voted off the island...but it's not really my thing. Give me salt, cheese, meat! MEAT! I can never pass up a cheeseburger but chocolate, I can usually walk past. But sometimes, like after a cruddy bad paying night behind the bar, even I need chocolate. Then comes the eternal debate, chocolate chip cookies or brownies? Or you could go completely nutty and make brownie cookies
The addition of the baking powder makes the cookies puffed and much more cakey then typical roll out cookies which
are usually snappy and a little sandy.
3 cups flour
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. baking powder
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teas. vanilla extract
2/3 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
whisk flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa in a bowl and set aside.

I love the color of cocoa, ever notice how when ever clothes or paint is called chocolate brown its never this warm and luscious ?

Beat butter and sugar in mixer until ingredients are creamed and lightened in color. 

isn't that pretty? and tempting?! I could eat creamed butter and sugar as is.
Add Vanilla extract and eggs one at a time until completely incorporated.

 Gradually add dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

 Wrap dough in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Roll out cookie dough on floured counter to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes(I used a small glass as my cookie cutter, why? cause i don't own real cookie cutters yet. santa? keep that in mind).

Anytime i'm rolling out something chocolate flavored I usually mix the flour for dusting the counter with a little cocoa powder, I just don't like the floury-ness thats left on the cookies when using plain flour. 

These cookies don't spread, at all, so don't worry about loading up the baking trays before baking 8-10 minutes until edges are firm and centers are set but still soft.  

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

You might want to make a bunch of these... those poor unsuspecting cookies in that picture, Didn't see it coming. Don't tell my gym, but they didn't last three seconds after I took the picture. They're currently making friends with my ever expanding hiney.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Oh Hot Dougs , how I will miss you.

OH! Hello there, you're my blog... I may have forgotten about you this past week.  Don't be mad, I was in a massive Chicago induced food coma. The Mancub and I went on a road trip to Chicago this past weekend, to go to Pitchfork Fest, see old friends, make new friends and eat far too much food. 

Never before have I ever wanted to learn the wonderful art of sausage making....that sounds vaguely dirty. Rewind, make it sound proper in your head, and ACTION! But really?! Who knew the humble hot dog could be so freakishly delicious at to elicit other crazy people like myself and Mancub to wait in line for TWO HOURS for food.... guess what, HotDougs can be that. freakishly.  delicious. 

Oh yeah, thats the line. Note the Ice cream truck just hanging out
 waiting for people to cave and buy a good humor appetizer. 

40 minutes later...
We caved.

so we waited, and waited, and contemplated jumping ship, cutting our losses and getting our hungry butts to Pitchfork Fest where we were currently missing music and dirty hipsters compliment each others ironic haircuts.  

But we finally got to the counter and ordered our food; 

Blueberry infused venison sausage with raspberry mustard and brie cheese
The Paul Kelly Bratwurst: Soaked in Beer – sort of like Paul. 
The Dog Chicago-Style Hot Dog with all the trimmings: 'nuff said.
Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Sel Gris

oh yeah, and Duck fat fries. that's right! Duck Fat Fries

From left; Venison sausage, Bratwurst, Chicago dog

I feel it's my duty to inform the people of the blogosphere that Hot Dougs only serves the duck fat fries on Fridays and Saturdays, that being said, and I know that Mancub will disagree on this point, the fries weren't that great. To me, not worth the wait or the hype, but then again I belong to the school of thought that french fries are really just a vehicle for salt and ketchup to get into my mouth.

Out of the four dogs the bratwurst was the most standard to me. Bun, brat, yellow mustard...nothing too fancy but also nothing to write home about.... so lets get to the meat of the post...

OMFG the duck and venison sausages were so epic and worth the wait!! 

Foie Gras and Duck Sausage

Grilled duck sausage on a soft french roll with truffle mayo and foie gras with just the tiniest bit of sea salt on top..... While in theory i feel bad for those poor force fed ducks, in reality my tongue is still doing back-flips after eating it , needless to say I could never be a spokesperson for peta. Oh sweet Jebus it was good, the casing was seared and the fat was caramelized just enough to perfectly balance the softness of the foie gras, and the addition of sea salt adds a pop that cuts the fattiness of all the ingredients that would otherwise overwhelm my mouth.

The grilled venison sausage, also on a french roll, with raspberry mustard and brie really was the highlight for both of us, strongly spiced, robust game sausage with sweet and tangy mustard and soft delicate creamy brie?! Oh yeah, this makes me want to learn to make sausage. It's a shame we only ordered one of these, because between the two of us one was NOT enough.  
  Honestly the only things keeping this sausage-y goodness from being in a top rated gourmet restaurant is the bread, great for what it is but had it been a crusty buttery house baked roll...and really if thats the only thing keeping small 'fast food' hot dogs from being worthy of white table clothes and waitstaff then they win food points from me. 
Chicago dog!

Oh Chicago dog, so many things so such a tiny bun. A beef hot dog with; a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, cooked onions, neon green relish, yellow mustard and celery salt on a poppy seed bun. The classic by Chicago standards, but if i were to do it all again I would 86 the relish and cooked onions and copious amounts of yellow mustard and replace it with raw chopped onions and just the tiniest line of mustard. 

So much sausage, so many fries....two hours later i was ready for a nap, not the bike ride that was awaiting me. But I'd wait in line for two hours all over again for these hot dogs. definitely on my list of places to go again when i get back to Chicago.The pickles and tomatoes are going to be regular visitors on my hot dogs from now on..

Hot Dougs,  3324 North California, Chicago, IL 60618  Phone: (773) 279-9550