pressed

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Welcome to all and thank you for stopping by food for fun’s lucky 13th installment of Cocktail U. Accompanying last week’s Blatburg Breakfast Bars (you’ll have to clink on the link to learn more about that wonky title) with an … Continue reading

boozy baker bourbon brittle cookies

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Imagine this: You find bars of Ghirardelli Dark clearanced out at $2.50 at your local grocer. Do you grab the last bars off the shelf? Does your mind automatically go into must-bake-chocolate-chip-cookie lockdown? If yes to both, we clearly have … Continue reading

soy brownies and rum?

Spring break is so over. A week of r& r at the in-laws–complete with far more DIY marshmallows consumed than recommended–was lovely, but this week it’s back to that real world and all its ensuing insanity. Cue the crazy.

Which put me at the intersection of Nothing Prepared and No New Ideas when time came to write this week’s post. So I’ll fall back on a now time-honored tradition of repeating myself, visiting my work elsewhere in the blogsphere.

Another month, another post at Minnesota Soyfoods Real Story Blog: Brownies anyone? (no worries–neither tofu nor actual soybeans were used)

We also play a game here at food for fun called “Find a Cocktail Recipe.” Enter part deux of this post…

Immediately upon opening the liquor cabinet, out fell a small paperback volume I don’t remember seeing before.

vintage 1940

vintage 1970

Famous Rum Drinks of the Virgin Islands is all of 32 pages and was penned by a Ms Dea Murray as a collection of drinks from “famous hotels, restaurants & bars.” Drowning in red, brown, gold, and harvest orange glory, it could only be a garage sale find. Yet its appearance rang no bells.

That said, it fell out of my liquor cabinet–reason enough to thumb through. Bluebeard’s Wench called for blue curaco, which is not on my shelf. Same story Hurricane Buster. Old Fashioned Voodoo would be mine if only I had guava juice. Swashbuckler called for Champagne and Coco Loco requires the purchase of coconut cream. Clearly I need a better pantry for this book.

wpid-mntsdcardPhoto-Editor2014-03-19-20.32.06.jpg.jpgFortunately, Rum Swizzle met me where I was at. Out came the rum, sweet vermouth, lemon, bitters, and fresh nutmeg. Though not a big fan of rum, I like what it stands for: warm sand and sun, island breezes, tropical tunes.

The resulting sipper was bracingly tart and could’ve stood a bit more sweet, but it won me over by being both assertive and classy. A newly purchased thrift-store cocktail glass made the project even more fun.

sS what if it's only 33°F outside? I have rum in my cocktail.

So what if it’s only 33°F outside? I have rum in my cocktail.

Our winter may not be over quite yet, but the mercury climbs slowly and surely a tropical rum cocktail can help push things in the right direction. So here’s to seeing the backside of winter. Here’s to garage sale finds–remembered or no. And here’s to the busy-ness of life. May it all be great fun as often as it can. Cheers!

more momofuku insanity

I’ll admit to not being on top of the blogging game this week. My posting day arrived, but still no sense of what to write up. While my week was full of the usual food-related projects along with a handful of meals out, nothing had struck me as blog-worthy. And truth be told, sometimes I just get lazy. Having to track details, take pictures, etc for a post can (sometimes, not always) suck fun from a food adventure.

So today’s “inspiration” was forced and also a bit lazy. I grabbed Momofuku Milk Bar, Christina Tosi’s amazing cookbook, from the shelf and flipped through until I found a recipe that looked tasty, used minimal ingredients, and took little time to throw together. And boy howdy, did I strike gold.

Momofuku has been featured here before and for those who haven’t heard of this crazy little New York sweet shop, know that it’s famous for Crack Pie™ as well as crunches, crumbs, cereal milk, brittles, and the like. Tosi has an imagination like no other along with a willingness to think waaaaaaay outside the pastry box. She’s the proverbial kid in a candy store except that she’s in charge of the candy store.

What caught my eye this go-round was her Liquid Cheesecake. A dessert in itself, it’s also an ingredient in ice cream, sorbet, layer cakes (both apple and carrot), and truffles. Tosi is an excellent communicator and only her words will do her thought process justice:

…I’m kind of a fan of the gooey, just-barely-baked approach to making something delicious. There’s just something so naughty and fulfilling about the texture… Once I’d settled into my role as pastry chef at Momofuku, I knew I had every right to eat magically thickened cheesecake filling in the confines of my new home…so began my search for my voice in the form of cheesecake. It was short journey: my heart beats for one and only one kind of cheesecake–the underbaked, messy kind. And so, my signature cheesecake is liquid cheesecake.

Now doesn’t that sound lovely?

Should you share Tosi’s obsession for ooey-gooey goodness, I suggest you find yourself a copy of her book. It’s a fun read and a great kickstart for crazy-good dessert ideas. But if you can’t wait to make liquid cheesecake, here’s what I did:

Heat oven to 300°F. In mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat 8 ounces softened cream cheese on low speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Scrape down side of bowl with spatula. Add 3/4 cup sugar; beat 1 to 2 minutes or until completely incorporated. Scrape down side of bowl.

In small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon salt; whisk in 2 tablespoons milk. (I used almond milk.) Whisk in 1 large egg. Beat cornstarch slurry into cream cheese mixture on medium-low speed 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth and loose. Scrape down side of bowl. Stir in 2 or so cups chopped chocolate, miniature candy bars, and cut-up marshmallows.batterScrape mixture into 9-inch graham cracker crust. Bake 15 minutes; gently shake pan. Remove from oven if cheesecake is firm in center and jiggly around edge. If mixture is jiggly all over, bake 5 minutes more. Add another 5 minutes if needed, but, in Tosi’s experience, “it shouldn’t take more than 25 minutes to underbake a cheesecake.” Cool cheesecake completely, allowing to set. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Note that the candy stir-ins and graham cracker crust were my spins. Tosi bakes in a 6-inch square pan lined with plastic wrap and describes the final “cheesecake” as “pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume.”

I’ll close with a warning: This cheesecake is deadly addictive. As expected, it’s creamy and rich, but the chopped candy makes it über-sweet as well. What starts out as one spoonful easily leads to two, then three, etc. And before you know it, you’re regretting those last bites. (or so I’ve been told 😉 ) This is a sweet treat meant to be enjoyed in small portions.

Liquid Cheesecake Pie, not for the feint of heart!

Liquid Cheesecake Pie, not for the faint of heart!

If the description and picture didn’t sell it, I offer one more reason to love liquid cheesecake:

not a fail!

not a fail

so not what I was going for

so not what I was going for

It’s supposed to look like this! I’ve had similar baking experiences that were considered fails (see pink squirrel pie at right) and it seems the same result is a major success here.

Hats off, then, to Christina Tosi for her envelope-pushing sweet treats. I love how she thinks and am ever grateful for her inspirations.

cookbook travels and banana bread squared

A show of hands here–who brings cookbooks home from their travels?

Even with the rise of the electronic recipe (my 11-year-old daughter Googles recipes, despite her mother’s large cookbook collection), paper cookbooks remain popular vacay take-homes. They give travelers return trips, even if just in mind and taste buds.

Opening Makers Mark® The Special Touch cookbook, a Kentucky purchase, I smell the bourbon of distillery tours. When the pages of Savoring San Diego are flipped, I see the ubiquitous flowers of that fair city. The Montana Cookbook brings back a sense of open land and Simply Colorado invites visions of rocky mountains.

While relatively close to home, the city of Duluth was another vacation spot worth remembering. (Culinary details from last summer’s camping trip recorded here.) An especially impressive restaurant stop was The Duluth Grill, and their cookbook told the tale of evolution from Ember’s franchise to one-of-a-kind comfort-food haven. The parking lot garden speaks volumes to their emphasis on fresh, locally sourced, and sustainably raised ingredients.

The book’s $30 price tag gave me pause and I left without, knowing I’d find it online for far less. Except I didn’t. The Duluth Grill Cookbook was available only on the restaurant website. I kicked myself (and certainly deserved a kick for not supporting small business when I had the chance), but found redemption in a friend who was making a quick trip that way. She, too, is a big fan of this much-loved restaurant and agreed to bring the cookbook back for me.

sauce with bookJust last week, then, I finally held a copy of this beautiful and lovely book in my hands. To prove its worth, I immediately set out to make Tofu and Walnut Marinara (taking a pass on the walnuts). It was hearty, flavorful, and packed with good-for-you veggies. Two days later it tasted even better and I know I’ll be making this sauce again.

now THIS is a tofu marinara sauce

now THIS is a tofu marinara

beet lemonade and it was really quite good

beet lemonade and it was really quite good

I have my eye on the Ratatouille recipe as well as the Buffalo Tofu Strips, both dishes I enjoyed while there. I’d also love to make their Beet Lemonade, though will have to riff on their standard Lemonade recipe as they do not share the beet version I was so enamored with during my visit.

Minnesota’s bitter cold winter called for a baking recipe, so I also made TDG’sr Chocolate Chip Cookies. In the same manner as an earlier cookie adventure, I experimented with each baking sheet, sprinkling some unbaked cookies with chocolate salt, some with vanilla salt and also mixing in marshmallow bits and even leftover movie popcorn that was sitting on the counter just asking to be poured into the remaining batter. Even without my improv, these cookies were amazing and hit all the right sweet, salty, tender, crisp notes.

cookies

because one photo of these amazing cookies would not have been enough

because one photo of these amazing cookies would not have been enough

So here’s to cookbooks and here’s to travel and here’s to those cookbook gems we find when we travel. If you’re looking for the recipe for either the sauce or cookies, let me know in comments or at deLizious facebook and I’ll pass them on your way.

And speaking of sharing recipes, I’ve been on a bit of a banana bread binge lately after finding two renegade recipes on favorite food blogs that demanded to be made. The Cottage Grove House rocked my world with Rye Whiskey Banana Bread

there's rye whiskey in my banana bread!

there’s rye whiskey in my banana bread!

and Shanna over at Curls and Carrots kept my spirits up with Rum-a-Dum-Dum Banana Bread. Thanks, ladies, for two fabulous loaves!

rum-spiked banana bread

rum-spiked banana bread

pan of (granola) bars

Pre-kids (and pre-Internet), collecting cookbooks was my thing. Consequently, my shelves are lined with hundreds of books I can’t seem to part with. While I’ve pared the collection down some, I still have far more cookbooks than I’ll ever need or use.

I’m betting many of you can relate. Cookbooks are more than recipes–they remind us of the people who gave them to us, restaurants enjoyed, travels made, classes taken, places lived. Even though there are plenty I’ll never cook from, each has its own reason for sticking around.

Why, though, would I purchase another cookbook? There are few recipes that can’t be found online and decluttering has more appeal than acquiring.

my new toy

my new toy

But I’m easy prey for a good deal and a pretty face. Hamilton Book offered both when its recent flyer advertised Entenmann’s Home Baking for a mere $4.95. Shipping didn’t add much and the memories I have of Entenmann’s baked goods, sitting on supermarket shelves in their blue and white boxes, drew me in. I wanted–no, needed–this book!

So in my collection it now sits and I’ve enjoyed turning its pages. Muffins, cookies, crumb cakes, pies, fancy desserts–they all look wonderfully homespun and there are many I would make. The Almost Homemade chapter uses Entenmann’s products as ingredients (their frosted donuts–along with coarsely chopped popcorn–somehow morphs into Dreamy Chocolate Bars). It all looks like great fun and I’ve already gotten my money’s worth by making two recipes.

Their basic chocolate chip cookies got a bit of a makeover when I subbed in cut-up Halloween candy (still trying to make my way through our stash) for the chips and are rich and buttery and delish.

Nutty Granola Bars were almost as successful. The photo reminded me of the Nature Valley bars we buy in bulk to keep my husband in constant supply. I’ve tried to make DIY versions with varying levels of success (thanks, Ada, for one of my favorites!), but have yet to achieve the crunch of store-bought brands.Open book

pan of bars

pan of bars

Instead of corn syrup, I used honey (seemed a cleaner ingredient) and maybe that was why these bars were softer than expected. Flour and a longer bake time differentiated this recipes from others, but the bars were still more soft than crisp.

Nutty Granola Bars

Nutty Granola Bars

Ironically, the other issue was that the edges crumbled and I had a cup or so of granola left in the pan after cutting and wrapping. The granola–and bars–were fantastic: buttery, a bit salty (did I mention I sprinkled the bars with Maldon sea salt before baking?), just slightly sweet. A splash of almond milk added to the granola crumbles made a fine supper.

granola for supper

granola for supper

I’m glad to have tried this recipe, but would add a bit more honey next time in hopes of better gluing the dry ingredients together. Perhaps a slightly longer bake time, higher temp, and larger pan would crisp them up a bit. Most likely, I’ll find another granola bar recipe to try (if you have one you love, please holler in comments or message me via my deLiz facebook page). Entenmann’s Home Baking will see more use, though, as there are crumb cakes, et al. to be made. This book will earn its place on my shelf.

Nutty Granola Bars

adapted only slightly from Entenmann’s Home Baking

  • 2 1/3 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey or corn syrup

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 9-inch square pan. (original recipe calls for 8×8-inch)

In large bowl, mix oats, hazelnuts, flour, and cinnamon.

In saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and honey; cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Pour over dry ingredients; mix well. Spoon mixture into pan, pressing down and smoothing top. Bake 25 minutes or until golden and firm to touch. Cut into 16 pieces while still in pan; cool completely. Makes 16 bars.

get crackalackin’ or DIY crackers

Though last week’s bacon jam has yet to meet a food it doesn’t improve, it was meant for a party and simply screamed to be partnered with goat cheese and homemade crackers.

ready to party

ready to party

Which meant I needed to bring my cracker-making A-game to the kitchen. Past experience with DIY crackers has yielded tasty results, though the baked crackers always seem softer than what you’ll find in stores. I wanted crisp, so this seemed perfect opportunity to give cracker making another shot.

The Homemade Pantry, Alana Chernila’s collection of all things DIY kitchen, was the book I turned to for my recipe. Her humbly named Wheat Crackers–basic and über-healthy–seemed just the thing to balance bacon jam. Ingredients were gathered and dough was made, rolled, and baked. I focused on rolling the dough to exactly the 1/8-inch thickness given in the recipe, as I’m guessing the softer crackers I’ve made hadn’t been rolled thin enough.

1/8 inch thick

1/8 inch thick

Using olive oil instead of butter also gave them a slight crunch and the uncooked millet added to the texture further. Because I can’t seem to do “pretty” or even “uniform” when baking, the crackers came out looking a bit disheveled. They were still delish and some would say their slightly ragged appearance adds to their charm. (You would say that, wouldn’t you? 😉 )crackers in bowl

Following Alana’s suggestion of adding garlic or rosemary to the dough would have given them more flavor; I’ll make this change next time. Still, these crackers were paired with that bacon jam, which has enough flavor for them both.

wheat cracker, goat cheese, bacon jam

wheat cracker, goat cheese, bacon jam

These were good crackers and making them reminded me of how easy a process it is. I’ve featured Homemade Pantry before along with Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese. These books deserve another shout-out as they’re fun reads (Reese is lol funny) and offer recipes for so many basics: pudding, bread, yogurt, pop-tarts (that’s a basic, right?), pasta, lemonade, Kahlua, fruit roll-ups, marshmallows, etc. You don’t need chef’s training to make any of it and food always tastes better–and usually costs less–when you make it yourself. (Excepting A-1 Steak Sauce and ketchup–I tried making both and am sticking with store versions.)

If you’re reading this, my guess is you’re already on the DIY bandwagon, but if no, I encourage you to pick something–anything–and give it a shot. (Butter, for instance, is nothing more than overwhipped cream. You can make butter; no churn required.) If you’re well versed in from-scratch kitchen arts, would love to hear your stories. Please share in comments!

Wheat Crackers

from Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Pantry

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup uncooked millet
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, minced and 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, if desired
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Freshly ground pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, combine flours, millet, flax, baking powder, salt, and garlic and rosemary, if using. Add oil; mix with fork. Slowly add water, mixing with hands as you go. Add more water (up to 1/4 cup) as needed until dough holds together.  Knead in bowl 2 minutes or until smooth and workable.

Turn dough out onto floured surface; press into flat disk. Roll with rolling pin until 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick. For square crackers, use pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut dough into 2-inch squares. For round crackers, use 2-inch biscuit cutter. (Or to make it food for fun-style, attempt to cut diamond shapes with sharp knife, realize it’s not going so well, but transfer dough to baking sheet anyway.)

Transfer dough to ungreased baking sheets with spatula; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 20 to 22 minutes, rotating baking sheets midway through, until crackers are hard to the touch. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes about 50 crackers.

giving you mo’ crunch

Food for fun is celebrating, folks! This was guest-post week over at Blog of Funny Names and, not only was it a crazy-fun post to write, but it connected me directly to my superstar subject.

My funny-name pick is a food-tv host, but also famous for his work in politics, Hollywood, and journalism. (I won’t name this famous gent here, so I strongly recommend you click over for a read.) When I tweeted him the link to my post, he tweeted back with a thanks, kind words, and share of my link. His simple act put me over the moon and I’m honored and humbled to have someone so public read my homage to him.

To celebrate, I made another round of Momofuku Milk Bar‘s “crunch.” If you’ve not seen their book–and if you’ve made peace with processed sugar–you need to give it a read. It’s drawn me in like that proverbial kid in a candy store. Everything in it is so naughty!

Cereal milks, ice cream made from cereal milks, crack pie™ (yes, they ™ed their crack pie), confetti cookies, candy bar pie, cinnamon bun pie, peanut butter nougat, chocolate malt layer cake, graham ice cream, carrot cake truffles, nut brittles–this list goes on. And then there’s the Crunch chapter. Here’s pastry chef Christina Tosi’s take on The Crunch.

The crunch is all about filtering our snacking spells…making crunchy textural elements all our own. Never too far from the familiar cornflake, pretzel, or cracker, we’ll make crunch out of almost anything the supermarket sells and then use it in something as fancy as a plated dessert or as simple as a cookie dough.

Each crunch recipe has a balance of salt and sugar as well as melted butter–the glue–and milk powder, which seasons and helps bind the mixture once baked. The beauty of the crunch, besides the obvious sugar, butter, and snack-attack allure, it the way it’s baked. Slow and low in the oven yields the most amazing tender caramelization in every crunchy snack-ridden handful, cookie, pie crust, or garnish.

If that doesn’t make you want to whip up a batch of Crunch.Right.Now., there’s no need for you to read further. 😉 But for those still with me, here’s how it went down.

First up was the Ritz cracker version, which I then used in Momofuku’s recipe for cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies, subbing in Ritz Crunch for the cornflake version. These cookies were wicked good. Stopping at just one–something I can usually do–was not an option. Adding Crunch to cookie dough–whether Momofuku’s or another favorite recipe–means you may down at least three or four of these crunch-ified cookies in one sitting. You’ve been warned.

pretty? no. irresistible? absolutely.

pretty? no. irresistible? absolutely.

Today’s celebration batch was all about color: Fruity Pebbles Crunch. (Other options include cinnamon toast, pretzel, and cornflake, though Tosi’s point is good: you could use pretty much anything for the “crunch” ingredient.)

haven't had these on my table since I was 7

haven’t had these on my table since I was 7

To avoid too much of a calorie disaster, I made only a half-batch: 1 1/4 cups fruity pebbles, 1/4 cup nonfat dried milk powder, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, pinch coarse salt, and 3 tablespoons melted butter stirred together, then spread out onto a silicone mat-lined baking pan. Baked 20 minutes at 275ºF, then cooled, it can be sprinkled on ice cream, stirred into batter or dough, mixed with yogurt, or eaten in all its rainbow glory as-is.

spread out before baking

spread out before baking

Next time you want to celebrate (heck, this works when you need to console yourself as well), add “make Crunch” to your to-do list. Sure, do a few crunches afterward if it makes you feel better, but you’ll need to get back to the Milk Bar cookbook eventually as there is more celebrating to do.

fruity pebbles Crunch à la momofuku milk bar

fruity pebbles Crunch à la momofuku milk bar

amazing muffins and crazy ice cream part II

super muffins, DIY ice cream, and salted caramel sauce--it doesn't get any better than this

super muffins, DIY ice cream, and salted caramel sauce–it doesn’t get any better than this

Last week, food for fun featured a muffin recipe that had knocked my socks off. But the post was left only partially complete as there had also been mention of combining the much-loved muffins with vanilla ice cream. What with my fondness for homemade ice cream, this wasn’t a casual statement. I was going to make that ice cream. The tale picks up here…

bake sale goodies

bake sale goodies

A few weekends back, I worked at a culinary garage sale for Les Dames d’Escoffier. Money was raised for Urban Roots, an amazing local inner city youth gardening program, and it was a fun way to spend a Saturday. There were bake sale treats to be enjoyed as well as fun kitchen and garden items looking for new homes.

Though officially working  the sale, I managed to find a good number of items that needed their new home to be mine. One such purchase was Cooking Wizardry for KidsPublished in 1990, this old-school spiral-bound gem offers basic-but-fun recipes and sweet cartoon illustrations. The Make Your Own Favorite Restaurant Food chapter dates the book especially with recipes for exotica such as milkshakes, pizza, chicken nuggets, tacos, burgers, sub sandwiches, and salad bars. (Though the chicken stir-fry was probably quite progressive at the time.)

In that same chapter were two recipes for ice cream. One used only a blender, and I’ll be giving it a whirl eventually. But the other, subtitled “With a Microwave Oven and an Ice Cream Freezer,” intrigued me most. It cooks the custard base (which contains flour of all things) in the microwave, chills it, then churns in an ice cream maker. Turns out the method works well.

This ice cream easily accompanies Super Muffins and would pair well with cake or cookies, too. It would also be lovely topped sundae-style or served solo. However enjoyed, this ice cream wins Best Garage Sale Find Ever.

Make-Your-Own Ice Cream Project (With a Microwave Oven and Ice Cream Freezer)

I’ve topped it here with a recipe from Lilly Sue and her fab Bites and Brews–her chocolate beer sauce is a revelation. Lovely poured over ice cream, it’s also worth drinking by the cupful. This stuff made me swoon.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In 1-quart glass measure, mix sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in 1/4 cup milk until smooth. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup milk. Microwave on HIGH 2 minutes. Stir well. Microwave on HIGH 3 minutes longer; stir. (Mixture should be smooth and slightly thickened.)

In small bowl, beat egg lightly. Pour small amount of hot milk mixture into egg, stirring constantly. Whisk egg mixture into hot milk mixture until smooth. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds; stir. If mixture is not yet beginning to boil, return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Cover; refrigerate at least one hour, but preferably overnight. (Mixture must be thoroughly chilled before churning.)

Before churning custard, whisk in cream and vanilla. Process according to ice cream freezer manufacture’s instructions. Makes 2 cups.