Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just dropping in with a quick post, because if you're as busy as I am getting ready for the impending poultry-centric holiday, you probably don't even have time to be on the interwebs!  But I do hope you'll read on, because I'd love to share with you my new favorite falltastic drink - a hot buttered cider with warming spices and a healthy splash of lush bourbon.

I thought of doing a Thanksgiving recipe post, but I'm guessing most of you who would benefit have already thought through your menus and planned well in advance.  This naughty hot cider is a simple add on because you've probably got most of the ingredients around at this time of year.  It's perfect for late afternoon/early evening, to keep the mid-day meal's food coma going strong.

So enjoy the recipe - it's something you'll look forward to welcoming back into rotation each year as the leaves start to turn and the air gets crisp.  Happy Thanksgiving to you, dear reader!

Hot Buttered Bourbon and Cider
Bon Appetit, November 1999 (I know, it's been around for almost 10 years and I'm just making it now!?)
Serves 4, easily multiplied

2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter
3/4 cup good bourbon (Maker's Mark is a good choice here)
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Ground nutmeg

Bring first 5 ingredients to simmer in medium saucepan.  Remove from heat; cover and let steep 15 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons chilled butter to saucepan; bring to simmer.  Remove from heat.  

Stir in bourbon and lemon juice.  Strain into large measuring cup.  Divide cider among 4 mugs.  Cut 1 tablespoon of butter into 4 pieces.  Add 1 piece to each mug.  Sprinke with nutmeg.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Brunch Perfection.

I have to say; I think I had the most perfect brunch ever this past Saturday.  The sixteen of us who were present, ranging from a precocious two year-old blondie to my 68 year-old Dad, enjoyed tons of great food, delicious drinks, and most of all each other’s company.  It was the ideal fall day - crisp but not too cold, drenched in golden sunshine from an impossibly blue sky.  There were lots of excursions across the yard with the Polaroid Land Camera (courtesy of my jack-of-all-cameras, Nick).  There were homemade doughnuts, and goetta.  There was a walk, a “senior photo” shoot, and an amazing sunset in a coastal field, where we were all certain we had walked into a Dan McCarthy print.  Later, after a lot of hot buttered bourbon-spiked cider, there was this.  And there was honestly a lot of love.  I think most of us are still reveling in it.  It’s nice when a bunch of friends from different parts of your life all behave like they’ve known each other forever, and just click.  More than nice, actually.

This brunch is my new tradition – to gather the friends that I may not see over the holidays and create our own new holiday, before we all step onto that slippery yet festive slope leading us into the next year.  I try to keep the guest list small, but it’s hard, and it always ends up growing.  Making brunch for sixteen is certainly a lot of work and a definite challenge (just ask my husband about the Great Custard Deluge of 2010), but it doesn’t stop me from trying to do crazy things like make homemade doughnuts, or serve four kinds of brunch cocktails.  Whatever.  I am definitely nuts when it comes to menu planning and entertaining and will likely never change.

I was thinking of sharing my swiss chard, mushroom and cheddar quiche recipe with you, but that is a ridiculous amount of work (see Custard Deluge).  And though it was undeniably delicious, on the morning that I was running around like crazy trying to get everything done for my guests, I was much more thankful for simple recipes, that I could kind of put together and not think much about.

Enter the Roasted Tomato Tart:  Thyme and olive oil oven roasted tomatoes rest on golden puff pastry with just the right amount of fresh parm-reg - it's the lil' slice snuggled onto the right hand side of the dish above.  This is a fantastically delicious savory brunch component, which goes great alongside an egg dish or two, some sweet bits like scones or mini muffins, a killer fruit salad…and some bacon or sausage, of course.  And more fantastic still is that it is super duper easy.  If you can roll out store bought puff pastry and roast a few tomatoes, you are golden.  This is definitely the recipe my guests asked me to share most after the brunch, so here it is darlings.  Actually, all of you readers are just darlings.  Thanks for reading my blog.  See? The love still hasn’t worn off.

Roasted Tomato Tart
By Paul Grimes, via Gourmet, July 2006, with my notes

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1/4 ounce package), thawed
2 pounds plum tomatoes (8 large) halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (dry is totally fine if that's all you have, but cut amount in half because dried herbs go further)
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings plus additional for garnish

Put oven racks in the middle and lower third of oven and preheat to 400˚F.  Line a large shallow baking pan with foil.

Roll out pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into an 11-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick.  Either cut a 10-inch round, or fold in the corners and roll again.  (I usually just fold in and it works fine - no sense wasting delicious dough.  It doesn't have to be perfect - the tart can be more "rustic"). Chill round on baking sheet until ready to use.

Toss tomatoes in the foil lined baking pan with 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons thyme, a 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper then roast, cut side up in one layer on the middle rack, 1 hour.

Brush pastry round with 2 teaspoons oil, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of thyme.  After roasting tomatoes for 1 hour, move tomatoes in pan to lower rack and put pastry on baking sheet on middle rack.  Bake pastry and tomatoes until pastry is golden brown and edges of tomatoes are slightly browned but still appear juicy, about 15 minutes.

While pastry is still warm, scatter 1/2 cup cheese shavings evenly over it.  Top shavings with warm tomatoes, cut sides down and in one layer, then sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, salt and pepper to taste, and additional cheese shavings.

*Group photo by Michael Burkardt
*Tree photo by Seth Marois

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A brief hiatus...then chocolate.

Apologies for the dearth of posts lately!  Much has happened since we last met, including this, which is pretty much mind-blowing. Another notable thing that came to pass was the nuptial extravaganza of one of my best friends, a fabulous 3-day event in Brooklyn which is mostly to blame for my inability to post anything new for the past week or so.  The overflow of happiness from that event rendered me unable to do anything that could be described as productive.  That and daylight savings time.  And the thickening of my blood due to impending wintertimes...excuses excuses.

Anyway, another thing there has been a curious lack of on Effing Delicious, besides recent posts, is chocolate.  On a quick browse of past posts I could really only find one involving chocolate.  But those were just chocolate chips, and were greatly out-shined by the star of that recipe - caramelized cornflakes. I admittedly am one of those people who would choose vanilla or caramel in a second over chocolate, and I honestly rarely bake with it - but I still love it. 

This weekend I had my family over for Sunday Dinner (it's what they used to have before the brunch craze, kids!) and decided to make a chocolaty dessert for the finale.  It seemed appropriate on the drizzly cold day nature served up - we combated that inclement gesture with great wine, an autumnal roast, a fire in the fireplace, a cutthroat game of dominoes, and a gorgeous chocolate bread pudding.

Bread pudding is the easiest dessert to make ever...almost shamefully easy.  It seems like you slaved, but really you just whisked some stuff together, poured it over torn up bread and baked it.  This one starts off with lightly toasted cinnamon raisin bread, which pairs with the chocolate to make a rich pudding with layers of flavor.  Any kind of milk will work, so you can make it even richer depending on what octane you use.

So finally some chocolate, peoples.  I hope it makes up for the fact that there's no "New York City Food Tour Part 2", which was supposed to be last week's post.  Sorry, but I was having way too much fun.

Chocolate Bread Pudding
from M-Stew's Everyday Food, with my notes as always

1 tablespoon butter, plus more for baking dish
8 slices (8 ounces) cinnamon-raisin bread
2 cups of milk (any fat-percentage will do - I made mine with skim and it was still decadent)
3 ounces of good quality semisweet chocolate
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Lightly butter an 11x7 inch baking dish.  Set aside.  Toast bread (in the oven or toaster) until lightly crisped.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, chocolate and butter; place over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until chocolate has melted, about 5 minutes (may take a little longer, watch it, and make sure the chocolate is completely melted and combined).

Tear bread into large pieces (about 4 or 5 per slice).  Scatter evenly in prepared baking dish.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla.  Whisk in warm milk mixture until combined.  Pour over bread.

Bake until pudding has puffed and is firm, about 25 minutes.  Cool at least 10 minutes and dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.

The pudding can also be chilled over night, but I think it's best at room temperature and recommend you take it out of the fridge about an hour before you plan to serve it.

Also!  Sorry there is no picture of said bread pudding.  All of mine were terrible!  If you talk to Santa tell him I need a new camera.