Got my package from Heatonist. This’ll be fun.
The weather is finally going to get cooler this week. Maybe by this weekend, it’ll actually even feel like fall. And as we all know, fall is the season of comfort food and cookies. And decorative gourds.
One of the comfort foods that has worked its way into my regular rotation is pork adobo. It’s now one of A’s favorite meals.
Adobo is a Filipino cooking method in which meat or seafood is marinated and cooked in a vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. It sounds simple, but the result is complex and delicious. It’s tangy, rich, sweet, salty, and a perfect food for when the weather is turning colder. It’s one of those things, like chili or mole or curry — every family (or even individual) has their own version. I like to add coconut milk for a creamy element.
You can use this recipe with chicken or beef or probably whatever you want. It’ll change the cooking times a bit, but the method is basically going to be the same.
We had our good friends M & M over for brunch this past weekend. Well, it started with brunch at our place and then sprawled out into the evening time too, which was amazing. They are some of the best people.
I tired a new recipe for our brunch, a variant on eggs in purgatory. Eggs in purgatory is an Italian dish of eggs cooked in a tomato sauce. The sauce is usually kicky and bright, infused with umami and spicy heat. The eggs are soft, with the whites barely set, and the yolk creamy and golden and runny. You top it with cheese and eat it with toasty bread and it’s just one of the best things.
When I was thinking about brunch dishes to prepare, it came to the forefront because it’s easy to put together, and you can do a good amount of advanced prep, so that when you have company over, you’re not in the kitchen trying to fry up individual over-easy eggs.
Remember those lab notebooks you had to put together in high school and/or college chemistry? The graph paper, the carbon copies, the wrinkled and warped pages from when the notebook got inevitably wet. Those were the days…
I was thinking about them today because I’ve restarted my macaron experiments in earnest. I’ve made these cookies successfully previously –
Those smooth tops! Those ruffled feet! – but the notes I took at the time were sloppy and incomplete. Although I have a bunch of flavors that I want to try baking kicking around in my head, I’m reluctant to experiment too broadly until I’ve nailed a base cookie consistently (because that’s how my brain likes to work). There are a few major parts to doing that – the recipe, the technique, and the oven.
For the most part, I’m using Stella Parks’ French macaron recipe (with some adjustments here and there for cooking time, oven temp, etc. – I try not to mess with the ratios too much). I’ve had good success with it in the past, and I love that she breaks baking down very scientifically and demystifies the process. (Her book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, is the next on my cookbook wishlist.) There are a couple other recipes that utilize a different cooking methods that I want to try at some point, but this hers is definitely my go to.
As for technique, I have a method of doing the meringue and macaronnage that I think is pretty consistent at this point. I’m sure there are variations between batches, but that much can’t really be helped.
So the part that I’m really trying to dial in right now is the oven and baking method. My oven has both convection and conventional settings, as well as a removable divider in the middle that transforms it into a makeshift double oven (that I rarely use because I find that it does not separate different temperatures all that well). It’s calibration is a bit off, and it loses heat pretty rapidly (about a 25 degree drop in temp every time the door opens – I checked with an oven thermometer because the display does not tell you that). But it’s a poor craftsperson that blames her tools, so I’m still trying to learn the weird ins and outs (there seem to be many) of my particular oven.
To do that, I need what every scientist needs – documentation.
Enter, Airtable. (There are several pictures of sexy, sexy spreadsheets coming up. If that’s not your jam… too bad, I guess?)
Did I just order fifty pounds of powdered sugar on Amazon for cookie season? Yes, yes I did.
It started as just a simple craving for shu mai and turned into a Sunday evening project. But now I have a belly full of dumplings and a couple of bags of shu mai and wontons frozen for the future.
I’ll post a recipe here in a bit.
Hubs and I are both sick with some kind of plague. We are pretty sure where we got it from, but no one is here to point fingers (Kev). Sore throats, phlegm, coughing. It’s pretty miserable. On the bright side, he’s been working from home so we’ve been able to spend a lot of time together.
Whenever I’m sick, I crave the comfort foods of my childhood. (Well, whenever anyone is sick, they crave the comfort foods of their childhood, I suppose. Though I’m talking about my specific case, so… Anyway.) For me, this means some kind of brothy noodle soup, wontons, and/or congee. Since Adam is still on a liquid/pureed diet, that means it’s CONGEE TIME.
Congee is a rice porridge that is pretty ubiquitous in Asian countries. In China, it’s frequently a breakfast food, served alongside fried dough sticks (youtiao) or with an array of toppings so you can choose your own adventure. Possibly you’ve seen it at dim sum restaurants making the rounds. It’s not that different from grits or cream of wheat or oatmeal, although congee classically skews savory rather than sweet.
Recipe below the cut.
This time of year might be my second favorite (I’ve got a soft spot for deep winter that has yet to be usurped). But this is the time of year when the weather first starts to hint at cold. And when trees start dressing in their colorful finery, bit by bit. Then all at once the world is covered in red and gold and orange and you are suddenly surrounded by fall. This is the season of decorative gourds. Of costumes and candy. Of cinnamon and cider and houses that smell like spice.
This is the time of year when I feel most wistful and whimsical and downright sentimental. It makes me self-reflective (even more so than usual) and quiet (again, even more so than usual). What is it about fall that makes a person feel poetical and nostalgic?
Oh, Clementine’s. What can I say about you that hasn’t already been said?
I remember when I first tried Clementine’s ice cream. I came in December of 2015, a little over 6 months after the original Lafayette Square shop opened. The hubs and I were living in Dallas, and we had come to visit some family. Already, there was decent buzz about the ice creamery and what it was trying to do – small-batch ice cream with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible (eg stout from 4 Hands, cookies from Whisk, fruit from farmer’s markets), arranged and mixed into interesting flavors, some completely originally and some a twist on old classics. And further, half of the flavors were “naughty,” meaning that they were based off of cocktails and contained alcohol. It’s a fun and playful theme that lends itself to some interesting taste combinations.
It has been almost a month or so since I’ve seen anyone from my previous life. So when it came time to get together with a friend from that era, I knew that I had to make a pitch for Union Loafers.
Union Loafers is a great little bread bakery in Tower Grove. It’s across the street from La Patisserie Chouquette and across the other street from Olio. That is, it’s sits on the corner of Tower Grove and McRee. The vaguely Victorian, almost dreamsicle orange exterior belies the gorgeous clean design of the inside. As is the current style, an aesthetic that I am particularly fond of, there is subway tile (with black grout, a detail I love), pipe shelving, exposed brick, and clean wood all over the place.
We showed up at the beginnings of lunch service (opens at 11a), and good thing too. In very short order, the place was filled to the brim and there was a standing wait line near the counter. When full, the place is raucous and cheerful, but tends towards the very loud side (a consequence of the exposed everything aesthetic), making it a little bit of a challenge to hear your server or your dining partner seated across from you. But hey, there’s always a price to pay for delicious food.