Archive | December, 2013

DOUBLE CHEDDAR BISCUITS & THE FEAR OF “MEH”

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BiscuitsYall

Simple, slightly tangy, so-smooth-and-buttery-they’re-creamy biscuits. Every year for George’s family holiday celebration I’m on bread duty. It started a few years ago when I volunteered to make rolls for a Thanksgiving dinner. They turned out…okay. Everyone seemed to like them but I was feeling pretty “meh.” They were stiff and dense without much flavor. I was hoping for something lighter, fluffier, and just all around better. So I tried a different roll recipe the next year. Now I know people’s opinion on this vary—some people never test a recipe on a group. Some people think it’s a good idea because it’s a way to gather a bunch of opinions at once. I do it simply because I generally just don’t have time otherwise. So anyway. Back to the second recipe I tested. It was also lackluster. Stiff. Dense. Not much flavor. Overall, pretty “meh.”

This year I decided to try biscuits. In an old America’s Test Kitchen email blast was a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that I’ve been saving for a rainy day. Don’t those sound delightful and interesting? That’s exactly what I said to myself. “BOY, that sounds delightful and interesting!” (Okay, maybe not exactly.) I was stoked because I thought I found my next bread for holiday dinners. And this time, THIS TIME, I was actually going to test the recipe first. Amazing, right? Long story short, I made them and was disappointed. Wah, wah (sad trombones!). Like the other bread recipes, they were also lackluster. Am I missing something? Am I just not cut out to make bready things? I’m not okay with that. Read More →

CHOCOLATE COFFEE PISTACHIO LOAF CAKE

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I was fooled into making this recipe. Here’s the story. I subscribe to PureWow e-newsletters and a recent recipe was for Chocolate Bread. Chocolate. Bread. Chocolate and bread. When I opened the email, I was thinking “These are my two greatest weaknesses,” but that’s not completely true. I would probably only say one is a serious weakness, the other is a sporadic temptation. Can you guess which one is the weakness? It’s the bread. I love bread. Which is funny b/c I don’t eat it very often but good bread? With butter or olive oil? AND SALT?? OH MAN that’s tough to turn down. Chocolate on the other hand? That depends on what it is. Something warm and gooey from the oven? Yes. Whatever it is, a chocolate warm gooey something sounds AMAZING. But random chocolatey candy? Meh. Whatevs.

Anyway, according to this recipe, chocolate and bread make a delicious baby and I couldn’t have been more excited. However, after doing some recipe comparisons and reading the comments, the PureWow version seemed like a bad idea. For one, there’s no sugar in the recipe. Does that seem strange to anyone else? Perhaps if it was truly bread-like, but there is no yeast! It’s a quick bread! Maybe even verging on cake-like. But no sugar? Seemed too dicey. Read More →

CORN SOUP, AKA LIQUID CORN ON THE COB

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Creamy corn soup. It tastes like…well, corn. But in the best possible way. It’s like indulging in a liquid corn on the cob, and it will take you to a very happy place. Because you know what’s delicious? Yup, that’s right. CORN. Fresh corn covered in butter and salt. It’s our summer time guilty pleasure. But it’s winter, so why am I torturing you, talking about fresh corn that won’t appear for another 7 months?? Let me tell you another story first.

I’m very lucky to have a few best friends in my life. They’re true blue, couldn’t ask for better, absolute BFFs who have been and will be around for probably the rest of my life. My bestie Seethal (say it with me: SHEE-thul) and I have been together for 23 years. We met in 2nd grade and it was best friend magic ever since. One of our shared loves in life is clothes. Fashion. Style. Cute things. Gold bling and bows and a good sale at J.Crew. For example, Kate Spade occasionally has those super dangerous online sales, the kind where things are marked down 75%-ish and you’re like “HANG ON, I don’t care what’s going on around me because I have to check out this sale please and thank you.” I bought my laptop bag a few months ago on one of these sales, a green and navy rugby striped bag. It’s super cute, super preppy, and I was so psyched. I get home one day and the package is waiting for me on the porch. I rip it open and quickly snap photos to text to Seethal b/c these are her favorite colors. So much so that her wedding scheme for her upcoming nuptials was navy, gold, and emerald. Obviously, she will love this bag. So I texted her pics of my new laptop bag and her response was “You crack me up. I ordered that same one. I hope it’s there when I get home!”

Seethal was married in wine country this past October and the event. Was. Stunning. It was so beautiful. The girl has great taste and her wedding planner did a killer job. Both the wedding and reception was at Meadowood Resort in St. Helena, CA which was probably the most fabulous place George and I will ever travel. (They have a croquet pro on staff—hellooo, fancypants!) (We peaked too early!!!) The reception dinner menu had several courses, one of which was a soup course. Can I get a drum roll for this please?

Roasted corn soup with summer truffles and crispy corn, paired with Miner Viogner wine.

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I wish I had a photo of the actual soup, but George and I were too busy rambling “Oh my God that’s amazing” in between spoonfuls that all I have is the pretty gold place setting that came before it. Sorry, kids. But anyway…

HOLY. MOLY. That was some mother-lovin’ fantastic soup. Honestly, it was just a delicious, creamy, smooth-as-silk corn soup that was like a liquid corn on the cob. I don’t know how else to describe it. So simple, so pure. And it made me so sad that corn was out of season. I had a sudden NEED to figure out how to make this soup. It plagued the back of my mind for days. On the plane back home I was thinking “…how am I going to make that soup? I wonder if I can find a good recipe online. Can I really wait until summer?? Would canned corn work? Gross I can’t believe I just thought about canned corn.” For some dumb reason it took me a day to realize HELLO. THEY SELL FROZEN CORN AT THE GROCERY STORE. AND IT DOESN’T TASTE JANKY. *facepalm* Canned corn tastes like the can. Frozen corn? Totally normal! I can’t believe I even considered the canned stuff.

The weekend after the wedding was a wonderfully weird moment of freedom. It was the first weekend in a year and a half that did not have some wedding something-or-other leading up to it. You know how I mentioned my few best friends? Well, we all got married within one year, almost to the day. First was Morgan in November. Then George and I got married in May. Then came Heather in August. Finally, Seethal in October. When it wasn’t for our own wedding, I was doing something for someone else’s wedding. Which was great! I loved every minute of the weddingpalooza that was our lives, because these girls are my family. But having legit free time back was kind of a cool concept. I decided to crack out a few recipes I’ve been dying to try and that pesky corn soup was the first one on the list. It took priority over everything else.

After doing some research of several recipes, they all seemed pretty simple and similar. That was encouraging. I decided to combine two recipes and make this soup my Saturday afternoon goal. So without further babble, let’s get to it!!

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::: FRESH CORN SOUP :::

Note: I’m using frozen corn in this recipe, but ideally—when in season—fresh corn would be used.

Total Process Time: 1 hr 30 min

• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion (Note: since that amount is slightly ambiguous, I used 80 g of onion, for your reference)
• 3 small cloves garlic (from 1 pod of colossal/elephant garlic)
• 4 cups corn, freshly cut from the cob – I used 1 bag + a fraction of another bag (Trader Joe’s Super Sweet Cut White Corn, 16 oz wt.) to yield 4 cups. By weight, it is 515 g.
• 1 1/2  tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• 1 – 2 TBSP sugar
• 3 – 3 1/2  cups milk (2%)
• 1 cup half-and-half
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for grating on each serving

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1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Gently cook onions in hot butter until tender—do not let them brown. Add 4 cups corn and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Stir well, then cook until tender and translucent, but don’t the onions or corn brown. Stir in 1 TBSP of the sugar.

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2. In a medium saucepan combine 2 1/2 cups of the milk and the half-and-half. Warm over medium-low heat just until heated through. Pour the corn mixture into the warm milk. Stirring often over medium heat, bring just to simmering. Remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Note: without cool time, the above process took about an hour.

3. Puree soup in batches, one-third at a time, until very smooth. Pour pureed soup through a fine wire strainer set over a bowl, allowing soup to drain through (push through sieve with robber spatula). I strained my soup once, but if you want it extra smooth you can strain it multiple times. Return soup to pan. Reheat over medium heat. For thinner soup, warm the remaining 1/2-1 cup milk over medium heat; gradually stir into soup to reach desired consistency. Taste for seasoning; add salt and the remaining 1 TBSP sugar to your preference.

Makes 4 cups after straining once.

WELCOME TO OUR NEW PLACE!

Hi. I’m Mary Lynn. This is George. We’re obsessed with all things food and drink.

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It all started in 2012 when we were planning for our May 2013 wedding. We were trying to decide on wedding favors, and were pretty sure we had our hearts set on custom old-fashioned glasses with our wedding logo printed on them. We love a good cocktail (especially Manhattans and Old Fashioneds) so it only seemed appropriate. A cute and practical keepsake that’s not super expensive? And fits our personality? Ding ding ding! We have a winner! Or so we thought. Until my best friend’s wedding and I noticed how many of her favors were left on the tables. Including my own. I forgot about it. There was so much going on that I forgot it was even there. So that got me thinking… I don’t want us to invest in something like personalized glassware for 130 people, only to find that 90 of them have been left behind. Talk about sad face! And how many of them really want a glass with our wedding logo on it hanging out in their cabinet for years to come? So it was back to the drawing board.

After brainstorming a bunch of ideas, we finally settled on a wedding favor that would be both cost effective (yay), super personal, and something people might actually use and enjoy. And if they’re all left behind, no sweat. So how about a recipe book? A little recipe book, just a few sheets of 8.5×11 paper, folded and cut to a cute little keepsake. Everyone in our lives knows how much we love to cook, eat, and go out to fun and/or fabulous restaurants. They also know how much we love to talk about it and incessantly post our dishes online as if we were photographing our own children (FYI, we have no children). Being graphic designers, we have the skills to create it ourselves, so that was it. A recipe book of our favorite personal recipes. The question was, what do we call it? We couldn’t come up with anything we liked, but we did start making fun of ourselves and our messy, unglamorous kitchen life and our stained aprons. I think George said “Stained Aprons and Strong Drinks” and at first we thought “Meh, too long.” That’s the problem with thinking of something fun and catchy. The length’s got to be right. But after sleeping on it, it’s the title that stuck. It just felt right, because that’s who we are. We’re kind of a mess, with gross aprons that we should probably wash more often (hey, honesty’s the best policy), but we’re always armed with a beverage in our hand when we’re in the kitchen.

After we created the recipe book, we loved idea of continuing that journey through a blog, and that’s where we are today. We would’ve started it sooner, but we had two other weddings to get through after our own. Launching on our 6 month anniversary would’ve been super cool, but that proper organization and planning didn’t dawn on us until 2 days beforehand. Which brings us to a random December launch! It is sure to be a work in progress so bear with us while we learn and grow. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the content we bring your way!

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