Francesca just had surgery yesterday and while it was a pretty low-key procedure, she was supposed to be out of commission for about a week. We had grand plans to lift her spirits and nurse her back to health, so it was a bit unsettling to find her running around the house this morning and having her drag *me* out of bed this morning. She appears to be the healthiest person in the house right now. That said, we had already promised her a special breakfast this morning so even though she’s doing a terrible job proving she deserves it, we’re committed to french toast and bacon, at least for brunch (oh how we suffer).
Right before my birthday this past spring, I spent a beautiful weekend in Dingle, Ireland also pretending I needed to get well. I was thoroughly fake-stressed, and wanted a weekend of complete relaxation to welcome my 22nd year in style so, when the impending time came, I’d be ready to face the real world head-on. I spent the weekend biking, listening to traditional Irish music, and chatting with strangers in cozy pubs, but a large portion of the credit for the weekend’s “healing” powers goes to the Goat Street Café’s French Toast with Brie and Maple syrup. I swear that no combination of flavors has ever sung so beautifully and harmoniously together – they resonate through your heart like music from a particularly good traditional music session, and with similarly strong healing powers (as long as you don’t have an actual illness). You would never think to put these musicians together, but boy can they play. So to celebrate the art of pretending to get well, we’re putting an East Coast spin with Challah French Toast with Brie and Maple Syrup – and we’re adding a trad playlist to play while you eat. Whether you’re recovering from the Tired Tuesdays or post-sleep hunger, I assure you this is just the cure you need.
And we want to know – what makes you feel better when you’re pretending to be sick? Or do you have any fun spins on traditional breakfast foods? We want to hear all about it!
This Pumpkin Fondue is one of our absolute favorite recipes of all time. We’ve posted this one before, but in light of the demo it on TV the other day, I decided to bring it back from the archives. It’s too important to miss! If your Thanksgiving menu is still flexible, we highly encourage you to check this one out! Scroll down for the recipe and a video of the TV segment!
Pumpkins Stuffed with Everything Good – Our Way
From: Heide Lang, Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
8 strips bacon (¼ cup shallots may be substituted for vegetarian version
¼ pound stale bread cut into cubes
¼ pound cheese, such as gruyere, emmental, cheddar, smoked gouda, asiago, parmesan, or any combination, cut into ½ inch cubes
3 cloves of garlic pressed or minced
1/8-1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions
2 teaspoons or more fresh herbs (i.e., parsley, rosemary, thyme)
½ cup dried cranberries (optional)
1 sugar or Cinderella pumpkin weighing about 3 pounds
1 cup or more heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sautee shallots until they are crispy (about 15 minutes), or fry bacon until crispy. Set aside.
Combine chunks of bread and cheese, along with dried cranberries (this is optional, but will add beautiful color to the fondue). Season with salt and pepper.
Add bacon or shallots to the bread and cheese mixture. Combine well.
Add any herbs you choose, along with the chives or scallions, and garlic. Toss well.
Using a very sturdy knife, cut off the cap of the pumpkin, just as you would a jack-o-lantern.
Scoop out the stringy pumpkin and the seeds and generously salt the inside of the pumpkin.
Pack the filling tightly into the pumpkin (there shouldn’t be any air pockets).
Pour in cream until the bread mixture is saturated and there is a bit of liquid on top (but be careful not to have the bread “swimming” in heavy cream).
Put the cap back on and bake until the pumpkin is soft, about 60-90 minutes. Check the pumpkin after 45 minutes to see how soft it is. Continue baking until the ingredients are bubbling and the meat of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Do not let it burn, or the pumpkin will turn black and collapse as it cools. You don’t want all your good work ruined!
Place a large spatula under your creation and move it gently to a beautiful platter.
Serve as a side dish or an appetizer on small plates.
Like any busy household, we sometimes always have a hard time planning out our meals just so and we end up with a random mishmash of ingredients that were meant for one thing and are now sitting forlornly in our fridge. This week the stars of the show were the figs that we bought for a Fig Cooking School photo shoot and then promptly forgot about, the lone Boursin cheese left over from a three pack meant for God knows what purpose, and the ground beef that had not made it to the TV studio for a Fox News shoot. Using up the ingredients in the fridgermarket can sometimes feel like an episode of Chopped. Which is really frustrating on a weeknight, but hey – it tests our culinary skills and makes us better cooks in the process, right? And besides, we don’t actually have a choice.
For today’s episode of Fridge Chopped, I present you with Fig-Boursin Burgers. The sweetness of the honey-butter figs marries perfectly with the herbs and onions in the cheese and the meltiness of everything blossoms explosively on a crispy bun. Truth be told this could have been improved with some arugula, but we didn’t have any and running to the store would have ruined the magic. Best of all the whole thing was thrown together in the time span of Francesca’s bath!
We’re hoping to bring back this feature on a regular basis because lets face it, we’ve all been there. But for now let me know – what’s the most brilliant thing you’ve ever magically thrown together? Comment below and/or better yet, send us a post about it!
My computer died-ish the other morning, which is why I made a lot of promises about upcoming posts I didn’t end up keeping (and you know from experience I’d never do that otherwise). But it turns out there’s an only slightly limiting WordPress app for my phone. And I just had to share these with you, even if it means eternal thumb cramps. I care about you way too much for my own good.
Ok, imagine you are eating the fluffiest, most buttery biscuit in the whole world. And imagine if it was a perfect marriage of blissfully sweet and decadently cheesy. And imagine that even though you made it from a mix (secret recipe!) it still sort of required enough culinary steps for you to tell your friends and family you made it. If that doesn’t sound like heaven food to you, then stop paying attention to me, try Jim n Nick’s Cheese Biscuits and come up with a better description yourself. Odds are you can’t- they render most people speechless. They’re incredible. We ate them alongside fried eggs, sausage and orange juice but they’re meant to be eaten by the millions with whipped butter and a side of barbecue. Or just alone. In all seriousness my roommate ate nine.
Make them with mild cheddar, not sharp, and remember that cutting in butter means rubbing it into the flour with your hands. Now you know everything you need to know. If you don’t live with anyone from Alabama, you can, and should, order a bag here.
It’s been almost three weeks since I graduated and it’s still barely sunk in. It’s so foreign to me, taking a day trip to New York without feeling guilty for putting off a paper, or going in the car without bringing flashcards. But it’s been an amazing few weeks. Now that I have no obligations, I get to spend as much time as I want playing with my sisters, taking pictures, playing the guitar, manning the cooking school booth at the farmers market and of course, cooking up a storm. In fact, cooking up a storm is the first thing I did when I got home, Sunday, June 6th. The moment my diploma was safely out of reach from any sisters or cousins who might want to color it in, I put on my apron and went to work on final preparations for my grad party.
The highlights of the party were the cheese table (above), and a cookie-candy bar (below) that was as much of a hit with the grown ups as with the kids. Doing tables like these isn’t hard. After the jump are some tips for doing one at your own party.
And for dinner, mom really outdid herself. Among the things she made were Salmon en Croute with dill, lemon and black pepper cream, Beef Tenderloin with Stilton Sauce and assorted grilled vegetables with herbs de provence. But perhaps the highlight was this fabulous, and foolproof, bacon-arugula quiche. It’s one of our absolute favorite things to make here at the test kitchen, and we’re very excited to share it with you. Click for the recipe!