26 February 2010

From the Pantry: Scalloped Potatoes

We've all heard about food porn, but this is cheese porn. Sadly, I've developed a sensitivity to cheese and can't eat it very much, but I did a variation on scalloped potatoes here that allows a little bit of cheese to go a long way and is also easy on the wallet. I found potatoes and onions on sale, which is easy to do in winter, and left the cheese out between the layers, instead focusing on that browned top. I also used the Essence that Foodbuzz sent me a while back to season the flour, giving it a spicy kick. Delicious!

Scalloped Potatoes

2 russet potatoes
6 small yellow onions
Emeril's original "essence"
grated Italian cheese blend

Lightly grease a 13 x 9 Pyrex and preheat to 350. Wash the potatoes thoroughly and slice them and the onions relatively thin. Make an overlapping layer of potato slices. Salt the layer, then dust with flour and essence. Dot with margarine. Use all the onions for the next layer, then the rest of the potatoes. Do the same salt, dust, and dot routine. I forgot the margarine on that layer but it didn't really matter. Cover with foil and pop in the oven for 45 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced by a fork. Uncover and sprinkle with a light layer of cheese. Return to the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nicely browned. It'll be pretty wet, but that's okay. Serve warm.

23 February 2010

Eggnog Pancakes

So back in January, I had some buttermilk lying around to be used, and I'd been in the mood for pancakes. Joy the Baker's recipe for Eggnog Pancakes showed up on my feed reader, and I decided impulsively to try it. My impressions? I think her chai spice latte pancakes were better, but mileage may vary, because I don't have a spice grater and thus I was using pre ground nutmeg, which everyone knows is not nearly as good. The flavor of the alcohol did come out a lot, and I liked it. Good with maple syrup!

18 February 2010

From the Pantry: Hilary's Super-Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

My friend Hilary is the sort of cook I would like to be--someone who walks into a grocery store, sees ingredients, and has an idea of what to do with them. Also someone who sees something on a foodblog and goes to the store that very night to get the ingredients. This is her recipe, the world's easiest freaking cookies ever. Okay they're more just a way to eat peanut butter straight without it sticking to your mouth, but I have no problem with that. It's a great go-to when you want cookies but don't want to work for them. You can bake one at a time, and just grab some dough when you're in the mood.

Hilary's Super-Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Stir. Bake cookies in the toaster oven one or two at a time, about 350 for about ten minutes or until the bottoms are starting to brown. You can also do it longer and they will become more solid and cookie-like, but dark. Leave the dough in the fridge and use at will.

16 February 2010

TWD: Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's kind of sad to see how the other TWD bakers did this week, because everyone has these lovely, thin, crispy chocolate chip cookies, which is exactly what I love. On the other hand, I followed the recipe to the letter and I got these so-so cookies that were sort of chewy warm, but like rocks when they cooled. I dunked them in tea and they weren't a total loss, but I could've bought the same thing at the grocery store. Definitely sticking with my tried-and-true recipes (and maybe Jacques Torres' if I get around to it).

09 February 2010

TWD: Rick Katz's Brownies for Julia

My new. Favorite. Brownie. I don't care what the other TWD bakers say about it being too wet, too gooey, underbaked. I loooove me some melted chocolate. And this is one gooey, melty brownie. Warm, it looks like this, with a cakey bottom, fudgy middle with lots of melty bits, and thin, crispy top. Chilled, you get something very dense and fudgey, or you can bring it to room temp for something in between. I used a mix of white, brown, and golden sugar with the eggs because I ran out of white, and that worked just fine. I also used sea salt, which I highly recommend, and didn't reduce the amount because I like my sweet and salty. I used an 8" square pan, ungreased, and that was fine. Dorie warns that the brownies are very delicate, but I found that once cooled to room temp, they sliced very neatly and were easy to lift from the pan and wrap for freezing. The delicate part is the top, so just don't press on that and you'll be fine.

02 February 2010

Tasting Notes: Just Like Mama Used to Make

First, I just want everyone to have a moment of respect for that pan. Damn. Okay, anyway, on to the post... You may have noticed that my parents come up from time to time on this blog, and rightfully so. I wouldn't necessarily call either of my parents a "foodie," but they both know their way around the kitchen. For all I think of Daddy as the chef in the family, and use him as my go-to guy for a panicked grocery store phone call about what to substitute for this and that vegetable or for advice on how to save a potentially ruined dish, I've noticed that Mom comes up more often on here, and there's a reason for that. Mom knows how to do comfort food, and a lot of this blog has been about getting back to my roots, embracing what's Southern in me, and indulging in some good old fashioned cheesy comfort. You've seen several incarnations of mommy pasta so far, as well as Mom's standby gratins dish, but since it seems to be a pimento cheese week, it's time to unveil Mom's tried-and-true grilled cheese technique.

Grilled cheese shows up a lot on this blog, mainly because I cannot get enough. When I was home for a weekend in December, and Mom made me grilled pimento sandwiches for lunch both days, I was kind of in comfort food heaven. The funny thing is, I am physically incapable of reproducing her technique. I don't know what it is, but I can't do it. Nevertheless, I'll recount her instruction here, and maybe some of you are better bloggers than me and will be able to create the heavenly grilled cheese pictured. Absolutely key, Mom says, is getting your pan hot. Make sure it's very hot before any bread touches it--it's better to lower the heat mid-grill than to have to turn it up. Put some mayo on the inside of your sandwich, spread with pimento cheese (see my last post for a homemade recipe), and generously slather the outside of the bread with margarine. Now grill that sucker. Let it chill for a while before you check it. It's better a bit burnt than undercooked. Flip (carefully). Repeat. Eat that sucker. Yes, I know, it's kind of sad that I can't manage this. I blame my stove. But go on, friends! Go forth and be cheesy! Live long and pimento.