I Agree with Milk

September 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The distinctive cobalt bag calls Oreos “Milk’s Favorite Cookie,” and I would have to confess a certain affinity for them as well. I’ve also had a few recipes for a homemade version bookmarked for awhile. Yesterday proved the perfect day to attempt making them. I compared a recipe on Leite’s Culinaria and one from Smitten Kitchen, siding with hers because it sounded closer to the inspiration (yes, even down to the use of shortening in the filling. No one said Oreos didn’t have a dark side.)  Plus, I have often turned to Deb for her wit, her recipe choices, her pictures. Her voice on her blog reassures me and I feel that I can trust her in times of kitchen conundrums. I don’t remember when I first started reading her very popular blog, but it was well before their baby, before her move, before the book, which I am excited to purchase when it drops. Her book tour, sadly for me, follows a route that skirts most of the South, but I’m tentatively scheming a sleep-in-the-car kind of road trip to meet her this fall.

I would definitely deem this recipe from her site another success for me. (I love it when that happens!) The cookies baked up beautifully, smelling irresistible, and the filling came together in just four steps. For kicks, I added a bit of espresso powder to the mix, because I feel the need to be using it more than I do. My vanilla, gifted by my grandparents, is also a bit stronger than what I usually buy at the grocery store. It’s cut with vodka instead of bourbon, maybe that’s why? I felt that it was a mite overpowering in the filling, but my testers didn’t seem to notice. The cookies have a crispness and a crunch to them as well as a semi-soft chew, which is kind of nice as compared to the harder, crumbly original. The filling is smooth and sweet, but as I piped it sparingly into each sandwich, not cloying. I liked the challenge of trying to recreate/interpret a favorite snack of mine, one that I usually have to restrain myself from purchasing. Now, when the craving strikes, I can make these and enjoy them with an appreciative partner.

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Apple Pie in a Mason Jar

September 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

My dear friend Rachael said “I do” to Jeff this past weekend, and her wedding was one to remember. They clearly cherish each other and their families. The ceremony was reverent and, at times, hilarious, like when the pastor gave Rach almost half the slice of rustic bread during their communion. Watching her decide whether to put down the crust or eat all of it was pretty entertaining, though I did feel a little conviction for giggling during the sacred moment. (The other bridesmaids were doing it too!)  I enjoyed getting to spend the whole weekend with her and celebrating with friends I knew well and friends I’ve come to know through her.

A fellow lover of good food, Rachael planned a spectacular menu for the reception: walnut, pear, and goat cheese salad with roasted beets; roasted vegetables galore; fried okra and fried green tomatoes; a biscuit and ham bar; and a shrimp and grits bar. Her talented and dedicated mom made and assembled (!) her 5-tier blackberry infused wedding cake swathed in white chocolate buttercream. There was a candy table that provided guests with a take-home favor, which I partook of generously. And, I don’t know if these were for swiping, but there were so many left, I just had to take one home.

Instead of a groom’s cake, the couple cut into a gorgeous apple pie and offered guests their own individual pies in the smallest, squattest Mason jars I’ve yet to see. Just enough to whet my appetite for more pie. Now that the air is crisp, it’s time to get to pie-baking.

Beard on Bread

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

On the subject of Toast, James Beard writes with the same no-nonsense yet inviting style as he does in recounting where and how he learned the recipes presented in the book. His voice can be both full of nostalgia and censure in the same sentence. His air of expertise is not off-putting, but rather at-ease-putting, as if to say he knows you can do it and wants you to know it, too.  

“It seems to me that one seldom finds toast that is really toasted. Usually it is a flabby piece of warmed bread with slight color to it. My thoughts go back a long way to the days when I first lived in England and one would still use a toasting fork in front of the fire to toast bread, crumpets, and muffins for tea. Never, never, never has toast smelled or tasted as good, save when it has been done over a toast rack on a stove or over coals. Our electric toasters are extremely efficient, but people do not use them correctly. Bread is not toasted when it takes on color; it must have a change of texture as well. So don’t be afraid of darker toast, and put it in a rack afterward so that it crisps instead of sogs. Nothing is as revolting as the plate of toast one usually receives in a restaurant or hotel; this comes buttered and wrapped in a napkin, and while it may have been crisp when it came from the toaster, it has, in the meantime, steamed to a most unpleasant texture. On the other hand, English toast is often kept too long in a rack, so it becomes cold, although crisp. I am not sure which is the greater crime, particularly when a perfect piece of toast made from good bread is one of the most delicious foods–and one that any fool can make.”

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