Monthly Archives: January 2012

Pucker Up


I have a confession to make: every once in awhile, I totally flub a recipe. I muck it up. Ruined from start to finish. Saturday night as I was tending to The (sickly) BF, I got the urge to bake cookies. “Chocolate chip?!” he asked eagerly. “No chocolate chips,” I told him. “That’s okay, I like the batter even without the chips! The vanilla, the brown sugar…” And that gave me an idea. Brown sugar cookies. I searched for a recipe, found an easy one, and went to work. The problem? Frozen butter. ‘No matter!’ thought I. ‘I will nuke it!’ Wrong. Oh, so wrong. What I got was a melty bowl of the most delicious smelling batter you’ve ever smelt. Yes. Smelt. But when I went to bake them, what did I get? Crispy, crunchy, flat, greasy disks that had the consistency of peanut brittle with burnt edges. Do you have any idea how disappointing it is to have your whole apartment smelling of delicious buttery brown sugar and nothing to show for it? Nothing in your belly to satisfy that tantalizing scent? Okay, so we ate some of those greasy, sugary disks anyway. WE PRACTICALLY HAD TO.

Which brings me to the next piece of the story. Lemon cookies. I’ve had this recipe chilling in my “recipes” folder in Gmail for some time, and figured I would follow the recipe to the T, let the butter soften, measure each ingredient accurately, and give the recipe the respect it deserved. And what happened? Imagine that. Incredible cookies.

On the menu:
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Makes around 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from WhipperBerry.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and granulated sugar together until blended. Add egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest and blend until totally combined. Add salt, baking soda, and flour and mix with a spoon until combined.

Put powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop up batter by heaping teaspoons, roll into a ball, and roll in powdered sugar until lightly coated. Place on baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart and bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the bottom edges are brown and the tops look matte (not shiny). Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rake to cool completely.

Note: Because I am always interested in whether or not a cookie comes out chewy or crispy, these are the chewiest of the chewy! Soft in the center, crisp at the edges. In other words, perfection.

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City Grit

I’ve found lately that I haven’t really been eating out at many fantastic restaurants. I’m not sure if it’s the cold weather or the lack of funds, but I don’t really have a ton to tell you about by way of must-visit-spots. Until… last night.

CityGrit Presents Jim ‘N Nick’s: City Grit is a “culinary salon”, part supper club part experimental pop-up restaurant. Chef Sarah Simmons and Jeremie Kittredge, the brains behind the brilliance, wanted to provide a unique culinary experience for discerning New York diners by hosting weekly dinners at an old school in Nolita, occasionally catered by chefs and cookbook authors from all over the country. The menu and wine list are always changing, and for a reasonable ticket price, anyone can attend. It’s haute cuisine with a Southern flair, served to the masses with a warm and welcoming hug-from-your-mama vibe about it. Who could ask for anything more?

Barbequed shoulders and roast loin with stone ground grits, braised greens, cracklins, and smoked onion and tomato relish

From Jim ‘N Nick’s, and preparing the meal for the Thursday, January 19th dinner was Chef Drew Robinson. Chef Robinson opened the evening by addresses the 82-person dining room with a quick speech about the importance of pig (you don’t have to tell me, Chef) and the Southern mentality behind preparing it. One of the things that struck me most about this dining experience is the intense passion and love of food that the people involved put into their meals. You may as well be at your grandmother’s kitchen table for all the love that goes into these dishes.

Company salad

On the menu:
Hickory roasted pork belly with tomato chutney aioli
Homemade Berkshire ham and sausage with pickled okra, pimento cheese, and Saltines
Company salad: romaine with pickled vegetables, parmesan cheese, and homemade buttermilk dressing
Barbequed shoulders and roast loin with stone ground grits, braised greens, cracklins, and smoked onion and tomato relish
Bourbon pecan pie
Corn bread mini-muffins

Hickory roasted pork belly with tomato chutney aioli

Verdict: Do I really even have to say it? This meal was incredible. I was literally spreading pimento cheese on pickled okra, coating my corn muffins in pecan pie filling, closing my eyes to savor the deliciously sweet and tender pork… this is BBQ done right, my friends. It’s not haughty or pretentious, just freaking delicious.

PS… can someone please buy me a camera? Kthxbye.

Bourbon pecan pie

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Beer! In Cupcake Form

This weekend my amazingly talented friend Meagan of Trippin: A Travelogue hosted a super swank dinner party for her closest girl friends. It was one of those straight-out-of-Waiting-to-Exhale evenings where you drink too much wine and someone tells a TMI sex story they regret the next day. She let me bring dessert and I agonized over what it should be. I wanted to make something that went along with her French-themed dinner but let’s face it, guys… French desserts are difficult. And then I thought, What do girls love? Girls love cupcakes. Stereotypical? Yeah. True? Yeah.

However… my friends are not your typical hair-twirling girly girls. So what could be more perfect for girls who drank a lot of wine and wore heels but also had the football game on in the background? Beer cupcakes.

On the menu:
Guinness cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Makes 16 cupcakes, recipe from Cupcake Friday Project

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup Guinness

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Mix together sour cream and sugar. Add egg. Whisk together Guinness and melted butter. Slowly pour Guinness/butter mixture into sour cream/sugar/egg mixture. Spoon dry ingredients into wet ingredients and blend with an electric mixture until combined.

Line cupcake tin with liners and fill each cup halfway. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove and let sit on a wire rack until completely cooled.

Frosting:
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Blend together cream cheese and butter. Slowly add in powdered sugar and vanilla and blend until combined. Pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes and store in a cool place until serving.

Note: I have a confession to make, and I never… EVER do this… but I used reduced fat sour cream in the cake and reduced fat cream cheese for the frosting. And I dare anyone who ate one to tell me they could tell the difference. 

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