24 February 2009

Taste & Create: Hollandaise Sauce

Can I be honest? Once again, I had a bit of trepidation about Taste & Create. Last time, it was less about the recipes and more about the flood and difficulty getting to ingredients. This time, I didn't have that sort of excuse, but I did notice that my partner Katie, of One Little Corner of the World, cooks quite a bit of meat. Normally, the obvious solution is to choose a dessert or baked good to make instead of an entree, but I've been trying to eat relatively healthy and my dessert budget was already full for the month. So what did I do? Give up? Of course not!

Luckily, I was able to find three or four savory vegetarian recipes, and one of those was fairly quick and easy and something I could serve with a vegetable: hollandaise sauce. Katie made this recipe from Good Housekeeping last Easter, and I thought it looked pretty tasty. Hollandaise with asparagus was a big Easter thing in our family, too. My mom used to make it from scratch, though lately she's been going the packet route (please don't be mad that I admitted this to the world, Mom! I love your hollandaise sauce!) I've never tried it myself, but we always did the stovetop method. When Katie said that she's only done it in the blender with raw eggs, I was surprised. I'm not afraid of raw eggs, but I've never heard of the method.

Anyway, the sauce was smooth, creamy, and lemony, just the way it should be, and perfect with entirely unadulterated asparagus, which I just did a few minutes in a pan of boiling water. This asparagus was so good, nice and sweet, that I can almost pretend it isn't from Mexico or somewhere. I know nothing locally grown would be ready in time for Valentine's Day, though. This last picture is kind of a funny story. See, when I first looked at Katie's post, I saw the roasted potatoes with aioli and thought that was the hollandaise. Hollandaise and fries? Wow. So when I ran out of asparagus, I used the rest of the leftover sauce on curly fries. Highest calorie lunch ever, but an interesting change from honey mustard.

12 February 2009

A Cinnamon Celebration with Dim and the Dark Cookies

This recipe has been on my to-do list for at least two or three years. The lovely Miss Shelley Adams of Richmond, Virginia created the recipe in honor of the band Jump, Little Children's last full album, Between the Dim and the Dark, and when I saw the awesome mélange of ingredients I knew I'd have to try it some time. A couple of the members of the band were friends of mine (and music instructors!) and though I've moved past my indie rock kid days I do miss them all. I've linked to a song I've uploaded if you'd like to hear them (a live track so I don't get in trouble). It's one of their more fun crowd-pleasers, if not the most musically challenging, featuring my friend Matt on vocals, and it's actually a track from the first concert of theirs I went to back in 2003. Also, be sure to check out the lovely blog A Southern Grace for the Cinnamon Celebration round-up. Happy V-day to you all! I'll be celebrating with a mushroom stroganoff, a glass of wine, and the film Paris Je T'aime. It should be a fun Self-Love Night.

Dim & the Dark Cookies
recipe by Shelley Adams
makes a couple dozen, give or take

● 1 cup flour
● 1/2 cup plus 1 T cocoa powder
● 1/4 tsp salt
● 1/4 tsp baking soda
● 1/2 cup sugar
● 1/2 cup light brown sugar
● 6 Tbsp butter
● 1/2 tsp cinnamon
● pinch cayenne pepper
● 1 tsp vanilla
● 1 egg
● 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
● 1/2 cup cinnamon chips


Sift together a cup of flour, ½ cup plus 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ t salt, and ¼ t baking soda into a medium bowl. Combine ½ cup sugar with ½ cup light brown sugar and mix with the fingers to press out lumps. Add 6 T slightly softened butter, ½ t ground cinnamon, a generous pinch of cayenne, and 1 t vanilla. Mix about a minute on high, then beat in an egg. Slowly add the flour mixture on low speed. Stir in ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks and ½ cup cinnamon chips. Drop by tablespoons on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350. Cool on a wire rack. Remove cookies to racks to cool.

This are super-amazingly delicious, soft and crumbly but not too cakelike for a cookie-lover like me. The cinnamon gives it a great spicy kick, and I would recommend a generous pinch of cayenne. I was kind of wimpy with it but that's not necessary.

05 February 2009

Le Chocolat

I know, I suck at posting lately. I have been quite crazy busy. Anyway, I keep meaning to let you all know about my experience with Amano chocolate bars, two of which I won courtesy of Amano and Blake. I posted a photo of these on my photo blog in January, but I finally got around to tasting both of the bars recently. My thoughts? Well, I thought the Madagascar bar was fairly plain. It's obviously high quality dark chocolate, and it's good if you just want a simple dark tasting bar, but it was more like something I might use to bake if I were going all out as opposed to a favourite tasting chocolate. I preferred the Jembrana, which comes from Bali and has a more unique taste - bitter, but not unpleasantly so. It's a complex flavour, and though I don't have the vocabulary to describe chocolate properly, I'll just tell you that it was good. I would serve this as an after-dinner treat.