Potato Quality

Poached Egg

Recently, I asked my friends and family on Facebook if there was anything they'd like to see me attempt in the kitchen. Several great suggestions came through, but one intrigued me... take a video of myself poaching an egg. Jordan... challenge accepted!

I've poached eggs a few times, mostly to success (RIP watery rubber egg...). As far as my testing goes, I have tried vinegar vs. non-vinegar, pre-boiling, and the non-swirling vs. swirling of the water. The method which works for me may not be the one that works for you, however I do suggest you give it a go and try it several times. Like making pancakes, the first one (or several) come out weird as hell. Once you get it, however... it's magic.

For me It comes down to this: I add vinegar, I don't pre-boil, and I make the swirl in the water. The vinegar is suggested because chemically it helps to "tighten" the egg as it sets in the water while it cooks. You can certainly do this without the vinegar, but I find I get more egg soupy-ness without it, which is gross and not at all what I'm going for.

Okay, enough build up, let's go!

What you'll need:

  1. An egg
  2. A deep pot with a tight fitting lid
  3. Small bowl
  4. White vinegar
  5. Spoon or spatula
  6. Paper towel
  7. Small plate
  8. Skimmer or slotted spoon  

First, you'll need to fill your pot until it's a couple inches deep of water (this is why you need a deep pot) and add a splash of white vinegar. Set it over medium heat and put the lid on. Bring the water up to a simmer (small bubbles on the bottom of the pot will form but no actual "boiling" will be occurring. 

Next, crack your egg into a small bowl and set aside. 

With the water simmering, take your spoon or spatula and begin swirling the water. You are essentially making a whirlpool happen. As soon as you get a good vortex going, slip your egg from the bowl into the middle of the vortex. The water will swallow up the egg and begin swirling the white around it.

It reminds me of this (start at 0:25):

You can use your spoon to continue to push the whites around the yolk as it cooks. Let it simmer, without too much poking and prodding, for 3-4 minutes. It will begin to float around the pot and look like a balled up wet t-shirt. 

Make sure you have your skimmer or slotted spoon ready. You'll also want to put the paper towel on your small plate in preparation for the egg. Remove the egg carefully, avoiding as much of the foam as you can, with the skimmer and let it drain for a second or two over the water. It is super delicate, so don't bounce it around. Gently let it roll from the skimmer onto the paper towel to finish draining. Seriously looks like wet laundry, doesn't it?

And that's it! You've (hopefully) made a poached egg! Let's say you want to make these for a crowd and don't have eight pots to use... the cool thing about poached eggs is you can make them ahead of time, store them individually in small plastic sandwich bags in the fridge, and then quickly heat them up for a minute in simmering water again before serving. 

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Muffin Top

espresso coffee cake muffins 1

I can't think of anything to say... Inspiration isn't coming to me when I need it to. Having just gone on vacation to Harry Potter World (nerd alert), it's entirely possible I used up all my creative energy casting spells and riding roller coasters. I suppose riding a roller coaster doesn't really use creativity, so much as it does jostle it around the brain enough to get it all nice and scrambled before it's tossed out of an ear going around a sharp turn.

What I'm trying to say is... I have nothing to offer today. No quips or reflections. No "what's new with me" updates. We all have these kinds of days where enjoying the quiet and peacefulness is really where it's at. Yes I have cleaning I could be doing, but it feels nice to choose sitting in a calm space by a bright window while the guinea pig munches on pellets behind me. 

This morning I made muffins for brunch, which turned into lunch because Cori and I were competing for oven time and well... good things take time. I learned today coffee cake makes for a good muffin batter and espresso powder is the magic ingredient for coffee cake. I also reminded myself why browned butter is such an important thing in ANY dish you're creating as it punches it up and takes the whole thing to another level entirely. 

I hope you are having a fantastic start to your weekend and are able to relax and enjoy the quiet (if you're into that kind of thing). I'm going to go muster up some effort and take the dog outside before the rain comes. Bye!

 

Espresso Coffee Cake Muffins

adapted from Joy the Baker 

 

For the muffins:

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste ( or vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I always use King Arthur)

1 cup sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons warm water

 

For the topping:

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup all purpose flour

3 1/2 tablespoons Mexican chocolate sugar (could also use regular sugar or flavored sugar of choice)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350℉. Line a regular sized muffin pan with paper liners. 

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, brown the butter*. After it has browned, set aside and let cool as you continue to make the muffins. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla bean paste. Add the brown butter and whisk again. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the wet ingredients all at once and stir (don't whisk!) to combine just until you don't see any flour bits left. 

Fill the paper liners in the muffin tin with half the batter. To the remaining half of the batter, add in the espresso mixture and mix in again. Top off the muffin liners with the remaining espresso-infused batter (it should feel full). Set aside while you make the topping.

To make the topping, combine the butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Work together with a pastry blender or a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping evenly across all the muffins before baking.

Bake the muffins in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until bouncy to the touch and lightly browned on the top. The should dome nicely! Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan to continue cooling on the rack (or you could eat one while they're still warm because that is the POINT). Store in an air tight container for up to three days. I suggest you devour these with a side of coffee and soft butter for spreading. Enjoy!

*When I brown my butter, I put it in a small, high-sided sauce pan over medium heat. I don't whisk, mix or really even touch the thing except to swirl it around the pan every couple of minutes. There's lots of bubbling and foaming at first, giving way to snapping and popping as water is being cooked out of it. But once that popping and crackling stops you better RUN to the sauce pan. It is in these few moments the butter starts to develop amber colored bits at the bottom of the pan. Once that begins developing, you immediately have to take that sucker off the heat because otherwise you'll end up with burned butter and no one wants that. Browned butter has a kind of clandestine effect when incorporated with cakes, muffins, and bundts. It's nutty, smooth, and sweet. The process also turns your stove into an oily skating rink, so make sure you have a great grease cleaner nearby after you're done making the magic happen on your stove.

Say Crack Again

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Hey guys! So today in this video I'm - 

Oh wait. I'm not filming a video. I'm writing to you, aren't I? Damn... I don't even film videos! I have been watching WAY to much YouTube lately. It's kind of serious and becoming a "problem" in our house. Cori complained recently how much she hates turning on the Amazon Fire Stick and seeing the Kathleen Lights YouTube channel pop up (or any makeup channels, for that matter). It used to be random things from SNL, Funny or Die clips, and maybe the occasional makeup tutorial from Nikkie Tutorials, but then things changed about three weeks ago and I fell down a rabbit hole and haven't seemed to find a way out yet. Not sure why, but it happened and I am a creature of habit (aren't we all?). 

Speaking of habits, I'm reading a book I got for Christmas called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, and I feel SO pumped about it. Awhile back on NPR (I believe it was the Freakanomics podcast, if I'm not mistaken), I heard an interview with the author of this book and he was talking about habits at work in regards to being more productive. I will link the podcast I listened to here! My favorite part (the bit that reeeeally hooked me while I was listening to this and driving to work) was the section about the Locus of Control. Without getting really nitty gritty here (because... we all came here for the food, amiright?), you get more from people when you reinforce not their "natural talent",  but rather their hard work and effort. I highly highly HIGHLY suggest you listen to this podcast if you manage others, are a teacher, coach, or leader in any way. I'll try to remember to update you with my thoughts after I finish the book!

But for now, let's get to POPCORN!!

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Rosemary Caramel Corn

From the badasses over at Thug Kitchen

 

1/2 cup corn kernels

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup refined coconut oil (def. not the unrefined version, mmkay?)

1 heaping tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I prefer dark, but you could use light if you're into that kind of thing)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 

Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock/pasta pot with handles of both sides over medium-high heat. Have the lid and a tea towel sitting close by. Once the oil starts to ripple and shimmer in the bottom of the pot, add the corn kernels and put the lid on top. Stretch the towel over the lid and use it to hold the handles on either side. This keeps the lid on while you shake and prevents you sweet delicate fingers from burning from steam. Give the pot a good shake to ensure all the kernels are coated in the oil and set back down on the heat. DON'T TAKE THE LID OFF UNTIL THE END. Once you hear the first *pop*, occasionally pick up the pot and shake vigorously (about every 10-15 seconds or so). Gradually (and then suddenly), the popcorn will start to kick into high gear and you'll hear a cacophony of sound coming from under the lid. KEEP IT ON. Keep shaking. You'll know your popcorn is done when the popping slows dramatically to one or two pops every second or so. It may take a few burned batches to get it down, but once you do it becomes second nature.

Pour out the popcorn into a large, wide bowl and set aside. 

Turn the oven on to 250℉ and line two large rimless baking sheets with either a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. 

In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Once melted and completely clear, add the rosemary and watch it sizzle for about 30 seconds or so, swirling the pan a few times. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk for about 2-3 minutes or so, at which point the mixture will darken because we are creating caramel! 

Remove from the heat and add the baking soda, whisking again. This time it will get frothy and foamy, making you feel as though you're back in Chemistry 101. Pour of the frothy magic over the popcorn and fold carefully to coat all of the popcorn. Be careful not to burn yourselves - that caramel sauce is HOT HOT HOT and I don't want you complaining about singed lips or fingers because you didn't heed my warning... 

Divide the caramel corn between the two baking sheets and spread into even layers. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through the time. This crisps up your caramel corn and really sets everything up for success. Once the time is complete, turn off the oven and remove the sheets, allowing them to cool on racks on the counter. Break up the popcorn with your hands and serve! You can also store it in an airtight container or bag if you're saving it... weirdo. Eat it immediately by the fistfuls.

Getting in the spirit

I may have overcommitted to my cookie making this year, but it's fine. I'm telling myself it's fine because I know it'll bring joy and cheer to many faces. I'll get four hours of sleep, but chocolate is worth losing sleep over, right? Right?? Yes. Glad we can agree. I have made copious amounts of popcorn, Speculaas, and these chocolate ginger morsels of heaven. Seriously thinking about opening up my own bakery in my kitchen with the amount of product I've generated in the last 72 hours. 

Are you done with your list? Are you stuck in traffic on the way to the mall to get the last of the stocking stuffers (Psst! Anthro has everything you could ever want, btw...)? There's no shame if you aren't done. I got you. Make something scrumptious for the ones you love and pair it with  something they can use. Mug + Hot Chocolate Mix + Brandy = Adult Christmas Drank (yes, I said drank). Tea Towel + Cookies + Whisk = Hostess with the Mostess. Slippers + Wine + Christmas Movie = Single Lady Date Night. There is no shame in our gifting game this year, kids. None. 

Christmas is coming... and it's getting real. Prepare yourselves! 

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Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies with Swedish Pearl Sugar

from King Arthur Flour

  • 281 g King Arthur AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsps ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa, such as Droste
  • 8 Tbsps unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 110 g dark brown sugar
  • 6 oz cup molasses
  • 175 g semisweet chocolate mini chips
  • 5 tablespoons Swedish pearl sugar 

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

Combine the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and cocoa by whisking in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until light and creamy. 

Add the molasses and beat until combined.

Beat in the dry ingredients on medium-low speed, then stir in the chips. The dough will be sticky and slightly tough.

Scoop the dough a tablespoon at a time. Roll between the palms of your hands into a perfect sphere. Roll the top portion of each dough ball in pearl sugar. Place a 1 1/2" apart, sugar side up, onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until their surface begins to crack. Remove from the oven, cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. 

Store in an airtight container for up to four days.

Peas Please

What do we talk about? We talk about the house.  ALL THE TIME. What's going on with your house? Are you finished with the bathroom yet? What's the next project you're working on?

I don't know guys. I don't know.

I want to be done with the bathroom but it is draaaaaaagging ooooooooon into summer. THere's all these *little* projects left to do, like paint the ceiling, shim the cabinet, put trim on the ceiling (maybe...?), frame out the mirror, hang pictures, and FINALLY pick out fabric for the shower curtain. It's getting there, I swear.

Cori recently gave me a Passion Planner and for the first few weeks I've had it, I've felt more productive and organized and (dare I say it?) happy. I won't go into all the stuff involved here, but in general it's speaks to the way my brain works and helps me see what I've accomplished. Isn't that a good thing?

Next up (after the bathroom) is the kitchen, and I've got BIG plans for the kitchen. Most of what we want to do is change all the colors, from gray and white cabinetry to white walls, new trim, concrete countertops, new lighting, and an additional pantry system (because we have SO many kitchen gadgets!). Not to mention new floors... but those won't come until we redo the entire first level. Let's be honest - that won't happen for a little while. We need to pace ourselves.

I'm still making beautiful things in the kitchen with Cori. Lately we've been really good at meal planning, thanks to the help of our friends Meg + Cam and their weekly Blue Apron boxes, as well as Sheena + Ezra for their shining example of menu planning/budgeting. We have been getting our milk and ice cream delivered via Oberweiss every Thursday, Green Bean every other Friday, and of course we are making trips to Costco and ordering via Amazon Pantry. It's working out and we are creating delicious things every day.

Recently we made a beautiful, scrumptious, SEXY pea soup. Yeah, I said it. That pea soup was sexy with it's vibrant color, smooth texture, and spiked with a citrus infused creme fraiche and olive oil for butteriness. So sexy.

Okay, I just grossed myself out. Let's pretend I didn't say that and instead focus on the food at hand: pea soup.

Most pea soup is thick, dotted with ham, and a sick grayish-green color. Not my cup of tea. Or soup. I'm sure I've had great pea soup in the past, but this was nothing like anything I'd ever had before. The trick to making this pea soup is focusing on consistency and brightness. Peas are boiled in a brine of sorts, which allows them to flavor up just enough to where extra salt added is unnecessary. Then, they are blended with water (not cream) and pushed through a sieve until completely smooth. The pop of color the blanched peas produce is unlike anything I've ever cooked. It SCREAMS spring! It's finished with a drizzle of delicious olive oil and a swirl (or three) of creme fraiche and lemon zest. Delicious on its own or eaten with crusty bread drizzled with olive oil. It's gorgeous and worth the time you put into it. I promise you.

 

English Spring Pea Soup with Lemon Creme Fraiche

inspired by Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook

  • 3 quarts water
  • 7 cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 4 oz. creme fraiche
  • Zest of one lemon, plus 1 TBSP juice
  • drizzle of good quality olive oil, optional
  • Thyme, Basil, or Pea shoots for garnish, optional

 

Bring water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a large pot. Add the peas, and boil for 4-5 minutes, or until tender.

Fill a large bowl with water and ice, and have it standing by when the peas are done cooking. Remove the peas from the pot with a skimmer or slotted spoon, and place them directly into the ice bath. This will stop the cooking, and help preserve their bright color. 

Drain the cooked peas from the ice water, and add them to a blender or food processor. Add 1 cup fresh water, and puree until completely smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add more water as needed.

Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve. (This step is optional, especially if you have a really powerful blender, but I prefer the consistency of the soup once it's been sieved). Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to press all the liquid through.

Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the consistency is too thick, add more water to thin as needed. 

Soup can be warmed on the stove, or chilled in the fridge before serving. I like it warm but not hot, so try it hot and cold and see which you prefer.

When you're ready to serve, whisk together the creme fraiche, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Serve alongside the soup, or drizzle it over to garnish (you can thin the creme fraiche with a bit more lemon juice, or water, to create a drizzleable consistency). Serve as is, or garnish with fresh thyme, fresh basil, or fresh pea sprouts.