Oh the things you can pickle

Guys, I have so many completed recipes on deck and in the hole and climbing up the mast and sitting in the crow’s nest, waiting to be posted about. I just gotta find the WORDS. Like, a 5-layer cake and some pre-redeye ginger-peach jam and some egg dishes and possibly something else that I can’t remember right now on account of having flown into NY this morning on said redeye and not so much “slept” as “threw my neck into awkward positions for 5 hours.” 

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Well so anyway, I’ll tell you about the beets, which were too pretty at the farmer’s market to be ignored. I pickled them in tarragon vinegar, which was amazing because I had a full bottle of tarragon vinegar that I bought in a Whole Foods moment of poshness, thinking I was going to “whip up some tarragon vinaigrette,” only to discover I hated the taste of tarragon vinegar on my salads. And using up something you’re not crazy about seems like some extra feat of fortitude. Sometimes I get that feeling when I buy a face lotion and end up not liking it but I soldier on because I’m so very brave and I reach the end of it and I’m like, THAT IS RIGHT, I did not throw that lotion out, that is not how I was raised, I USED IT, and now I get to buy the lotion that I LIKE. That’s how it was with this vinegar.

It works here with the beets though, and I’m not sure why. The only thing I can point to is that Alton Brown told me to, so I did it, and he was right.

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Also, yeah, I downloaded Instagram, which you will all have to deal with. I know, I can’t even stand myself. It’s just that I am a self-proclaimed shitty photographer, and instagram softens the holy mess that I sometimes capture with my iphone. Plus I don’t have to open Photoshop ever, which is such a relief to my poor, overworked Macbook (this post brought to you by apple. just kidding, I would never sell out! [yes i would, apple]). Is it communism for photography? Sure. But I am no Harrison Bergeron, and this is no art gallery. I’m trying to be utilitarian-ish about this, because then I don’t have to fuss with f-stops and lighting. Like, god help me if I have to organize my food in a light box before taking a picture. I’m covered in flour/vinegar/tomato sauce/rice/salt/water/butter over here! Come on! Though, check out my vase of flowers that cannot be killed. Nice touch, right? All class over here.

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I brought an entire jar of these to work and have been slowly making my way through them with the help of my coworkers. The other day I made a killer (humbly, as it were) panzanella and added some to the mix. Basically, having picked beets on hand is really really really really really nice. It is life-improving. You can just sprinkle them on whatever-what-have-you you’re eating. And it takes a very short amount of actual work-time to do it. I did this in between episodes of Frozen Planet. Pickled beets and Frozen Planet dvds and that clip of that mini pig walking down those stairs and jumping into a bowl of oatmeal are probably the best things ever for this very moment as I type.

Pickled Beets
adapted from Alton Brown 

Roasted Beets, recipe follows
1 large red onion, frenched
1 cup tarragon wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water

Remove the skin from the Roasted Beets and slice thinly (I made mine into large matchsticks). Arrange in 1-quart jars alternating layers with the onion (I omitted the onion and missed it not). In a small pot boil the rest of the ingredients and pour over the beets. Tightly lid the jars and place in the refrigerator for 3 to 7 days before serving.

Roasted Beets:

6 medium beets, cleaned with 1-inch stem remaining
2 large shallots, peeled
2 sprigs rosemary
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl toss all of the ingredients (I omitted the shallots and rosemary, whatever). Place into a foil pouch and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

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I will not make a s’mores pun

I won’t make a s’mores pun because I read so many blog entries looking for this recipe wherein all these (probably perfectly nice and I’m sorry for being so fucking bitter, seriously) ladies said this one million times: “I wanted……..wait for it…..s’more of this pie!!!!!”

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And that’s totally cool, but every time it happened a little of my soul died, and after you’ve read about 8 blog posts about s’mores pie and you don’t have all that much soul to begin with, all you want is for ladies to not make obvious puns when they’re making obvious pies. I suppose that was the other issue. Everyone kept acting like s’mores pie was some sort of revelation. Oh my god, chocolate pie in a graham cracker crust with marshmallows on top!! WHAT GENIUS THOUGHT OF THIS? Etc etc. I hate to burst bubbles, but, this s’mores pie is an obvious pie. There is no genius here, except that it takes the s’mores recipe and blows it up to pie-proportions (I WILL NOT SAY PIE-PORTIONS).

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I bought the graham cracker crust because I had no more soul after all the lady-food-blogs-oh-my-gawd-s’mores-piiiiie-thing. Also, I didn’t have TIME. I was at book club and I was so full of frustration at the book we read that I was antsy to talk about how much I hated the main character (and in hating her, hate myself, or something, right? where is my therapist?). Also it was cheaper to buy the pre-made crust because we live in post-industrial America and the value of crushing Barbara’s graham bunnies in a plastic bag with a hammer, though thoroughly enjoyable, was not negative 40 cents. You dig?

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You: Kat, you are hating a lot tonight. Me: I know, and there’s no real reason!! I just had a lovely dinner and am listening to music on my couch. I had to work overtime tonight, but I didn’t even care because I love my job!! And I get to fly home tomorrow and there might be a thunderstorm!!! Sometimes I just get carried away with what it means to have a food blog that isn’t written by some sweet and honest young mom so I feel this intense pressure to be sassy and talk about sex and act like I don’t give a fuck about handmade jam labels. It’s exhausting!!! Because I love labels!

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And this pie was great, really. Perhaps it helped that I bought organic high class not-too-sweet marshmallows, the jet-puffed variety of which I find incredibly cloying. Perhaps also lending a hand was the not-too-sweet chocolate pie base. It was pretty spectacular on its own, beyond the whole MIND-BLOWING concept of turning s’mores into a pie (THE SMARTEST THING ANY DOMESTIC LADY HAS EVER THOUGHT OF LET’S WRITE A TWEE COOKBOOK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS S’MORES CAN TURN INTO).

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The last thing I’ll say, and a reason I find this pie so successful, is that the only reason s’mores are not delicious is when one hasn’t properly melted the chocolate, which is not an issue here with this lovely chocolate pot-de-creme-y pie. People erroneously think the heat from the marshmallow will adequately melt the chocolate on the cracker, but that shit ain’t RIGHT. You have to melt it separately, on a rock or a macguyvered-grill-type-situation, or you’ll have hard chocolate with a slightly slippery surface where it touches the marshmallow. I have made so many s’mores, friends.

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Man, you guys don’t care about my s’mores philosophy. You just want this genius pie recipe. Well. I won’t leave you waiting any…..s’more.

Bah!

S’mores Pie
slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is 

for crust
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 sticks butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325.

Add melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together until a crust forms. Press in to a 9 inch pie plate.

for chocolate filling (from Tyler Florence)

3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 bag of large marshmallows

Combine milk and heavy cream in a saucepan and heat over low heat. Watch carefully and once it begins to simmer, remove from heat and add in chocolate. Stir with a spatula until chocolate is melted, then whisk in sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs. Slowly add eggs to chocolate mixture while whisking.

Pour chocolate filling in to graham crust. Tyler’s directions call for the filling to be baked for 15-20 minutes, but mine needed about 30-35. Pay attention and check every 5-10 minutes after 20 minutes pass. One the chocolate is no longer liquid, remove the tart and top with as many large marshmallows as you can fit. I heated my broiled on low, and stuck the pie back in for 2 minutes so the top could get golden. The other option is to just place it back in the oven for a few minutes until they melt or use a kitchen torch.

Let cool then refrigerate for 1-2 hours before cutting.

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Quickles

Because it was my birthday this Friday, and because I saw some “mediterranean cucumbers” in Whole Foods, and because it was my birthday, and because I love pickles, and because it was my birthday, I made some quick pickles. Did I mention it was my birthday? I have to admit, I used to be one of those people who tried to pretend I don’t like to make a big deal out of my birthday. It’s just one of many defense mechanisms I’ve built up from bad relationships wherein the boy I was dating straight up FORGOT about my birthday, which is a thing that happened to me 3 times with 2 different boys. So anyway, obviously, at the time, because I wanted so badly to be “the cool girlfriend” I was like, whatever, doesn’t matter, those are not the things that I care about.

But, it just isn’t true. I am a human, and I like it when humans that supposedly love me pay attention to me. I just like it. I like people telling me Happy Birthday. I like cupcakes and streamers and like….attention.  It makes me feel nice.

So that’s a thing that is. Ok, let’s stop talking about it because it’s already making me feel uncomfortable.

Regarding these quick refrigerator pickles though, they are lovely. As are all pickles.

But you guys already know you can’t really trust me when it comes to pickles, because I’m an equal opportunity pickle lover. So you could give me a bad pickle from some spoiled batch from some shitty factory in some state that doesn’t care about pickles, and I would still eat that pickle. I have standards. Are you a boy who is supposed to love me and you forget my birthday? Forgiven. Are you a pickle that tastes like poison? Forgiven. So basically if you’re a boy and I love you and/or you are a pickle of any sort, you are ok in my book no matter what. So I guess now you know the key to kat’s heart. Pickle or loved boy. When you really really really really really think about it, what’s the difference? I mean, one is less disappointing in the long run. But one….probably makes up for it with pickle. Bam bam bam bam bam. Porn joke. Aaaaand I’m out.

Spicy Pickles
*adapted from Lottie + Doof

about 8-10 kirby cucumbers, quartered
2 tablespoons of kosher salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 1/2 cups of distilled white vinegar
2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
1 tsp ground mustard
4 garlic cloves peeled and sliced thin
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup loosely packed dill sprigs

1. Pack the cucumber slices, garlic slices, onion slices and dill springs into a clean, 2-quart glass jar.
2. In a container pot, combine the salt, sugar, vinegar, coriander and mustard. Boil.
3. Add water to the mixture and pour the brine over the vegetables. Add more water to the jar to fully cover the vegetables and seal tightly. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

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Cookie cookie cookie starts with C

Hey kids. It’s 9pm, I’m watching a tv show in which James van der Beek plays himself (oh yes, I love the Beek), I’m on my 2nd glass of wine, I just did all the laundry that exists, and ate 2 slices of cold pizza and 2 “organic” peanut butter cups. Sounds like it’s TIME FOR A POST.

I was going to write about how isn’t it a shame when you’re buying plantar wart remedies at Safeway and all the cashiers are young not-unattractive dudes? But then I read this article about how being an optimist makes you live longer, and my friend Purd used to make me listen to the song “Accentuate the Positive” by NRBQ, and one of my friends had a “calming manatee” status message on gchat, so we’re going to do this all not negative, or somesuch.

Plus, last week my coworkers and I got together to eat pizza and drink wine (life theme.) and gossip and make…..

Fucking ridiculous Cookie Monster Cupcakes.

Look. Listen. I’m not a crazy young mom with a blog and my own fashion line because my husband thinks I’m a good sewer and my friends humor me by buying my hand-crafted toddler headbands or whatever. In fact, ater reading this, I feel less ready for childrearing than ever. Not to mention the fact I haven’t found a willing co-partner yet. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I could have a kid in 9 months from….tomorrow. If I really wanted to. But no one has as yet looked me in the beautiful (shh, part of the fantasy) eyes and been like “Kat I want to have babies with you because your genes are so good and also do you want a cold beer right now?” So you know, I’m not a mom and there aren’t exhausting kid birthdays to attend to or small socks to somehow put on (seriously, how do you put on baby socks?! their feet are like endives).

BUT, I do work with some folks who are several years younger than me. Sometimes they name bands I don’t know, and use im-speak that came about after everything I learned on AIM. For example, kids these days say things like “totes.” Well, anyway. One of my coworkers is a young lad, fresh out of college, still in the phase of his life where he eats everything he sees and none of it finds residence in his midsection. So we feed him pretty much everything, mostly for sport (but not when HR is looking). The alleged story is that he was drunk and admitted wanting these cupcakes to another fellow coworker of mine, and that’s all it took for us non-moms-whose-biological-clocks-tell-us-we-should-be-making-muppet-themed-cupcakes-by-now.

We’re all like….a bunch of late 20s, early 30s ladies who are sorta practicing for being adults, but none of us are really adults? You know? Because we’d still rather drink wine and go to drag shows and have long hair than like….touch a child’s snot.

But our young coworker, whose birthday it was, is such a young and positive person. He like, loves things still. You know? He hasn’t been ravaged by years-long-failing relationships and the realization that you can’t just eat everything you want anymore and taxes and vaccuum cleaners and the fact that men hate to do dishes and day drinking gets old. So when we gave him these cupcakes for his 24th birthday, he made this face. And he was all genuine about it, and touched that we had all gotten together to make him a birthday present, and he was so young and innocent. It was really nice.

The bottom line is, I work with some rad people. Some of you maybe haven’t figured out that this is the path to happiness. I encourage you to figure it out, pronto. I may be old and bitter and winey and a mess, but god damn I work with some amazing people, and they keep me sane.

Man, that was so much genuine feeling. I gotta go like…..watch porn or something. Oh wait, that James van der Beek show is still on. BRB (as the young kids would say).

Cookie Monster Cupcakes
from here

Basically we made carrot cake cupcakes, cream cheese frosting, dyed some sweetened coconut blue with food coloring, and made eyes out of marzipan and “food markers” though a backward chocolate chip would also work. We used to Jacque Torres chocolate chip cookies for the…cookies, because we are fancy ladies all of us. Good luck making this for your child who will never appreciate it like our coworker did!

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Oh my god, where have you been?

I’m not going to pretend that too many people care whether or not Kat in the Kitch gets updated on a weekly basis, but I was getting what I would deem a moderate amount of guff from friends who know me in Real Life for dropping off the face of the blog planet. You see,  some people rely on me to make them feel better about themselves (read: I’m a mess). Well, I’ll withhold no longer. Here is a post  about some strawberry-rhubarb crumble I made a few weeks ago, before strawberries really came into their own (I used frozen, everything was ok).

I only have 1 picture, because I have an iphone now, friends, so I never use my actual camera (sorry Canon). So check it out, this is what my crisp looked like. It tasted like rainbows and sunshine though. Delicious times infinity. Fucking strawberry rhubarb. It’s the best!

I’m not really ready to jump back into embarrassing life stories yet, internet. I don’t know, it seems like the more I talk about things being a mess, the more messy things get. So what I’m telling you is I’m not going to give you what you want. If you want to stick around, I’ll get there. You just need to be patient.

For now I’ll give you this crisp and the warming knowledge that, yes, I’m still a disaster. You’re doing ok. You’re probably married or something. Go you! How are your kids? Tow-headed and precocious? I thought so. I drank 2 liters of beer in 30 minutes the other night. Because someone bet me. That’s where I’m at, internet. I’m 2 weeks to 29 and that is where I am at. So.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
from Food&Wine (I can’t even remember if this is the right recipe)

FILLING
2 pounds rhubarb stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
TOPPING
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with 3/4 cup of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In another bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to the strawberries; discard any rhubarb juice. Add the cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla to the fruit and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, mix the ingredients together until large crumbs form.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° and continue baking for about 30 minutes longer, until the fruit filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned. Let the crisp rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving.

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Sweet. Potato pie!

Hello kiddos. I’ve been sitting on this post for a full week. I just can’t seem to WRITE anything about it, other than it’s a sweet potato pie, and I’ve been drinking a lot lately, and I’m all out of sorts.

It was a perfectly good sweet potato pie, though I believe I still prefer pumpkin. So. Wow I really have nothing to say.

Mashy mashy mashy.

Whisky (not whiskey, though this recipe does call for bourbon). Is bourbon a whiskey? Internet, tell me. Yes. Turns out, yes. It’s likes squares and rectangles. All bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons. The more you know. Rainbow graphic.

These are eggs from my parents’ chickens. My parents chickens meet frequent untimely demises. Raccoons, freak wind storm accidents, foxes. The perils of suburban Long Island are myriad.

There it is! There’s the pie! It looks so good, right? Yeah, ok, next time I’ll be better. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m happy to blame old age, fatigue, and/or general subpar intelligence.

Sweet Potato Pie
from Joy the Baker

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2- 5oz cans evaporated milk (1 1/4 cups evaporated milk)
3 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Boil two medium sweet potatoes in their jackets in a covered pot over moderate flame, until sweet potatoes are very soft and tender.

Test with a thin sharp knife. If there is any resistence, boil longer. Knife should penetrate the sweet potatoes fast and smoothly. Remove potatoes from the water and allow to cool on a plate or wire rack.

When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes, cut into chunks and place in a large bowl. Mash potatoes thoroughly with a potato masher. There should be NO lumps.

Measure 2 cups and put in a medium sized pot with the packed brown sugar, all of the spices, salt, the 1/2 stick butter, and one 5 oz can of evaporated milk. Cook on low flame for about 5 minutes, whipping with a wire whisk until butter and brown sugar are melted down and mixture is well blended, smooth and starts to bubble. Remove from fire and let cool in pot.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the three eggs with a fork. Add the second 5oz can of evaporated milk, granulated sugar and vanilla to the eggs and continue beating until creamy. Pour the cooled sweet potato mixture from pot into a large bowl. Stir in the egg mixture. Blend thoroughly with a whisk and refrigerate mixture overnight or use immediately.

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Accidental and forgotten bear cake

Have you ever baked an accidental bear cake? Have you ever baked an accidental bear cake and then forgotten about it? These stories and more on tonight’s Kat in the Kitch…

First of all, yes, I accidentally baked a bear cake….BY CANDLELIGHT. Because my life is super romantic. And because I’m super San Francisco, it was a soy candle. Possibly organic soy, I’m not sure. I baked this bear cake at my old apartment for a book club meeting. No, I didn’t bake this bear cake for some adorable toddler. I baked it for a bunch of wined-up late 20-somethings sipping on wine and discussing sexy book stuff. It’s important where you put the stress in that sentence. We weren’t discussing SexyBook stuff. We were discussing sexy BOOK stuff. I mean, there was some boning in the book, but it was all very tasteful I assure you.

Again I did not have a mixer, so this cake and its frosting got beaten by hand. The resulting “fluffiness” was therefore extremely questionable. Plus there is brown sugar in the frosting, and does that stuff ever fully incorporate? It was super grainy granular sandy mcsandpaper. And the reason I am calling it an accidental bear cake is because I didn’t set out to make a bear cake. I set out to make a miniature wedding cake (relax, it was on-theme for our book, The Marriage Plot), but then I forgot my mini cake pans so I used a muffin tin for the top layer, which resulted in more of a snout than a cake top, so I went with it. My old roommate had bought these weird chocolate-covered gooseberries that looked like eyes and there was a perfectly nose-looking oreo just sitting around. So hey, a bear!

Otherwise this cake was good, but to be honest it didn’t blow me away. I found the recipe on Pinterest, which…I can’t get started about Pinterest, I really can’t. I have too many conflicting emotions and am bound to sound like a douchebag about it, and so many people love it, and I USED to love it, but jesus christ if I have to read one more trite motivational quote or look at one more picture of random clothing photoshopped together to form a perfectly ordinary outfit complete with accessories or view one more lacy-ass sparkly wedding dress with the word “obsessed” below it I am going to find where the site’s servers exist and explode them with my rage.

Aw, but that bear face is just TOO CUTE. Heyyyy Mr. Bear. Oh wait, I forgot, we totally ate his face. Ah well.

Snickerdoodle Cake with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Buttercream
from Foodie with Family, who supposedly “Gently adapted from Always With Butter”

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups fine or superfine sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole milk, warmed to room temperature

4 1/2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8-9 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup of half and half, plus more if needed
Optional:
Whole cinnamon sticks for garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Butter and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in colour.
Beat the eggs in one at a time, fully incorporating each egg and scraping down the bowl between each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Add about 1/3 of the milk, beat to incorporate, then 1/3 of the flour, again beating to incorporate.
Repeat this process, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until all of the milk and flour are added and mixed in evenly.
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake, rotating midway through, for about 35 minutes or until the cake tests done.
Let the cakes cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before turning out onto the racks to finish cooling.

Beat together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until fluffy and pale in colour.
Add 6 cups of the confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla extract and beat, starting on low and moving up to high, until it is fully incorporated.
Scrape down the bowl and add the half and half. Beat to incorporate again.
Add another 2 cups of the confectioner’s sugar and beat, starting on low and moving up to high, until fully incorporated. Check the consistency of the buttercream. If it needs to be thicker, add the remaining confectioner’s sugar. If it is too thick, add more half and half a teaspoon at a time, beating after each addition, until it reaches the consistency you like.

Level out your cooled cakes and cut each into two even layers.
Place one layer on a cake plate then add a layer of buttercream, spreading to the edges and evening out as you go. Repeat with the remaining layers.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream.
If desired, garnish the top of the cake with whole cinnamon sticks.
Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing.
Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator.

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