Can I just say, first, before anything else? Guys. This weather. I know it’s supposed to get chilly again this week, but this Sunday’s weather was in-cred-ible. I’m unabashedly one of those people whose moods are starkly affected by the weather outside, and this weekend was just sublime. It finally feels like spring! And just in time for Easter.
Two Red Bowls turns one today! In honor of its first birthday, have … yes, yet another miniature cake. Mini-cakes forever! (No, I think a cake hiatus might be in order after this.)
I thought this little cake might be fitting for a number of reasons. One is plainly that it’s based on one of my favorite cupcake recipes of all time — this green tea cupcake by the inimitable Isa Chandra of Post Punk Kitchen and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The second reason is that this cupcake recipe was the first thing I ever baked from scratch. That is, not Funfetti, or Ghirardelli Brownie Mix, or break-and-bake — but actually measuring out leaveners and flour and dry ingredients and wet ingredients and taking care not to overmix. (I’m not counting the time in the 9th grade that I tried to make sugar cookies without measuring cups or spoons, and thought it would be a good idea to substitute baking soda for baking powder 1:1.)
OK, y’all. Somebody’s gotta be jokin’ me. As some of you already know, earlier this week Two Red Bowls was named a finalist for Best New Blog in Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog Awards. (I may or may not have had to stop typing at least three times in the last sentence to breathe shallowly into a paper bag.) If you feel like voting for me, you can here until April 9th, but with the happy news we already had earlier this month, being a finalist has already surpassed all my wildest dreams. My cup runneth seriously over, you guys. I can’t express how thankful and overwhelmed and gratified I am at all your warm wishes on our engagement and this crazy surprise too. If I think about it too much I get wibbly. Thank you.
So, that said, I would much rather focus on these dark chocolate gems. Ever since I saw these babies on Not Without Salt last week, I’ve been taken with the idea of fresh mint and chocolate together. I actually have a comically low tolerance for mint things (um, bubblegum toothpaste, anyone?) so the idea of a gentler, sweeter mint-chocolate pairing was music to my ears. And they came out phenomenally. There’s a bit of fresh mint chopped up in the cookie dough itself, and one delicate candied mint leaf to top it off, resulting in a mint flavor that whispers rather than yells — a spring breeze instead of winter gales. (Any day now, New York. Any day you feel like it.) The cookie base is a recipe adapted from Call Me Cupcake and How Sweet It Is, and it’s the perfect texture, crisp on the edges but silky smooth in the center, with just a bit of chew. I think you should make ‘em. Enjoy!
A few weeks ago, I posted some teeny pies with a dollop of vague, cryptic dazed-happy-whirlwind news on the side. The news was … as some of you dear friends guessed … that we’re engaged! The Two Red Bowls are getting married!
(Also, yes, I got him a ring too. The party line is that it’s egalitarian and modern, but really, I was just impatient and love buying shiny presents.)
I really wanted to think of a food for this post that meant something to B2 and me. And ideally something that would go in the two red bowls that started this whole blog off. Then, after Mandy posted these incredible pineapple buns, it came to me — BBQ pork pineapple buns, as inspired by Tim Ho Wan. And now I will tell you a long and hopefully not boring story about us, our bowls, and where these buns fit in. You can go to sleep and wake up at the end for the recipe, I won’t mind.
Happy first week of spring! Eeeee. Spring and early summer are my favorite times of year. Even though it doesn’t feel terribly spring-like yet up here, I’m still reveling in the abundance of sunlight from the longer days we’re having, the few spots of balmy weather here and there, and the promise of warmth to come.
In anticipation of longer and lazier days, today I have a small piece up on Verily Magazine (yay!) on how to make Clinton Street Baking Company’s venerated pancakes, scaled down for just two. This piece was one of my favorites to shoot — pancakes, for one, are always fun to style, but especially so when you have the freedom of making someone else’s tried-and-true recipe (let alone one Neil Kleinberg’s award-winning world-famous tried-and-true recipe), and especially especially so when I get to snag a certain Bowl #2′s good-lookin’ hands for a little cameo. There’s nothing I don’t like doing with him, and it was so much fun (for me, at least!) to incorporate the man I love into the endeavor I love. Now that I know how much fun it is to have him model for me, I don’t know if you’ll ever see my monster hands on here again.
Hope everyone’s having a wonderful Monday!
Oh my word. (This is a Southern pie, so naturally I have to start this post with a Southern expression.) The past few days have been the happiest kind of whirlwind, for reasons I can’t wait to share with you all in the coming weeks (nah, no cookbook, though if anybody has a stray book deal lying around I would be cool with that too). As I’m writing this I’m so full and content and dazed that I’m not sure I’m in a fit state to write this for you all! So I’ll keep it short and just share with you something to soothe and calm, amidst all the excitement.
For those of you who are new to chess pie, this little blurb by Southern Living perfectly sums up all you need to know, including the theories behind its funny name. Mine is a fairly standard recipe for the Southern classic, but with a teensy twist (and made miniature, surprise surprise). By infusing the cream with chamomile and thyme, the resulting custard is smooth and sweet, but with faint floral and savory notes that I found irresistible.
The tricky thing about making this mini is that does require you to prepare at least a few tablespoons to 1/4 cup more cream than you’ll end up using — I couldn’t think of a way to infuse the flavor sufficiently otherwise. I found a use for the extra cream by doubling the recipe below to make the four pies shown (and it gave me the chance to tweak the proportions to the right consistency of custard), but I think the extra cream would have been lovely too in tea or coffee, or used to add just the faintest flavor to ice cream. If you’re loathe to waste cream, you could brew tea with the thyme and chamomile, chill it or freeze it, then use it to flavor the pie crust instead.
Finally, note that you’ll need at least an hour of chilling time for the pie crust, and you’ll also need to prebake the crusts, so give plenty of time for this or prepare the dough the night before (or on a separate occasion and freeze).
Enjoy! And, on a separate note, you can find my little recipe for Chinese tea eggs up on Food52 today!
Work has been busy lately. Before I started these law shenanigans, I dreaded the times I’d say that phrase. I had friends in undergrad and law school who used to say that they’d go stir-crazy with nothing to do for too long, which I never understood at the time. I thought of myself as the kind of person who’d always be totally okay with having nothing to do. I am so good at doing nothing, guys. (And then, usually, making way too many unnecessary messes in the kitchen.)
But it turns out I can get a little stir-crazy too. The nature of our jobs is usually cyclical, dependent on the case or the deal, and it’s naturally slow at times or crazy at others. And, contrary to what I expected, I’m finding that sometimes my stress actually comes from the slow times. My guess is that it all boils down to the simple fear of the unknown — a knot in my stomach from the feeling that if I’m slow now, and twiddling my thumbs now … then sooner or later it’s bound to come back to bite me in the form of sleepless nights and working weekends. So when the busy time does arrive, at least I know this is what I’m getting.
Without a doubt, though, the best part about work getting busy is the moment when it finally isn’t, and it settles down. How extremely Friday-like Friday feels when it comes at the tail-end of some long hours. And how luxuriously lazy a Sunday brunch at home is when my kitchen and my time is at my disposal.
So this may seem odd, given my great and well-documented love for Southern comfort food, but I’m not usually the biggest fan of mashed potatoes. To me they’re like the vanilla extract of side dishes — potentially delicious, but usually in need of a partner.
When I was a kid, my dad used to drive me to KFC as a treat once in awhile after piano lessons or swim practices. Man, I got all up in that meal. Two piece meal, all legs, Original, mashed potatoes and coleslaw, please, thank you. But I’m pretty sure I spent half my time (after tearing into those Original chicken legs like a starved shipwreck survivor) trying to figure out how to make those mashed potatoes more palatable. Leftover fried chicken bits mixed in? Spread thick on a biscuit? With … the coleslaw? (I wish I could say I didn’t try that, but I did. … And I liked it.) However you slice it, the mashed potatoes were the one thing on that plate I didn’t devour with single-minded ferocity.
I realize I’m making it sound like I was very into my KFC experience. I was. I was very into KFC.
Anyway. I’ve come to realize that making mashed potatoes from scratch does a thing or two or trillion for them. But a few months ago, I came across these glorious-looking roasted garlic smashed potatoes on The Baker Chick, and that was a real game-changer.
First, this salt potato thing is genius. Boil the potatoes in well-salted water, pasta-style, and the result is a flavorful skin and a creamier potato. Smash it all up with butter and milk, leaving the skins
because you’re lazy because they’re nutritious and have fiber and such. Then, add to that a couple of cloves of golden fried garlic. (That should have been one awesome head of roasted garlic, but I got impatient.) Finally, throw in one pan of sage leaves crisped up in brown butter? It turns out mashed potatoes can do the damn thing all on their own after all.
It’s that time of year, it feels like, when your body starts craving things that refresh and nourish. Bright and sunny citrus, fresh crunchy vegetables with vitamins and nutrients. Of course, where other lovely folks take those cues by going raw, making stunningly vibrant fresh-pressed juices, or whipping up drool-worthy tahini berry smoothie bowls … I make cake.
Somehow I’m not sensing an abundance of surprise here. [Read more...]
So I have this problem. Namely, it’s a shocking inability to put a salad in my mouth that is not, at the very least, just as unhealthy than a burger or a pizza or any other non-salad-y unhealthy thing that I would otherwise be eating if I weren’t eating a “healthy” salad. And then I also have this other problem — namely, a shocking inability to leave bacon out of anything and everything. (Creamed corn. Pancakes. … Chocolate chip cookies.) Put those two together and … well, you get this salad. Ta-da! Two wrongs do make a right! (Or two rights make a righter right.) [Read more...]