Tag Archives: Les Moustaches

A Cookie For The Kind of Man I’d Be (Snap ‘Staches)

February 2012

If I were male, it’s pretty safe to say, I’d have obnoxious facial hair, channel the Prohibition era in my fashion choices and fantasize about having a dimly lit den, where my male counterparts would gather, perhaps even smoke some cigars (though I generally find this habit disgusting), drink brandy and discuss the world.  If I were male, I’d channel the quintessential high society, manly man (minus the misogyny) of yesteryear.  In a distilled manner of speaking, I’d be one of those Brooklyn hipster types.  If I were that man, these would be my cookies, and this would be my coffee!

Presenting another collaboration between yours truly on the baking/styling front and the ever talented man behind the camera, Adam Milliron, who has now entered the twittersphere!  Three tweets for Adam!  Tweet tweet hoorah!

Strong Black Coffee + Snap Whipped Cream

Strong black cuppa joe, prepared as you see fit (I generally press my beans in the French style)

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons AITA Snap, to taste
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized, chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form.

Add in heaping dollops to a cup of joe.  Political debates to ensue.

Snappy Gingerbread Mustaches
(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups chestnut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamum
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled organic smoked black pepper
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 large egg (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons AITA Snap

Directions

Combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the molasses, egg and Snap.

Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough.

Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)

Position a rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.)

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick.

For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to a baking stone lined with parchment, placing the cookies 1 inch apart.

Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely.

The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.

The Method To Our Madness & Make Believe

Want to see how obsessive Adam and I are about arriving at the perfect shot?  Here’s a glimpse into our madness.  It may seem petty to some, but finding that perfect spot for a sugar cube really makes our day!  Hopefully, it makes your day in some way as well!

Fin.

Header_Vday Finale

Valentine’s Day Observed: The Finale

February 2012

From the dinner, we settled onto the couch, to put my birthday present projector to use. You see, part of the present was a video, to him, from me!  (Did you catch that wee little rhyme?)

ps:  I really like almond croissants!

p.p.s:  That J.R.M is pretty special! On the grossest, grayest, NJ-spitting-upon-us day, he helped make my mecca come true even though this is how he feels about New Jersey. Why?  He knew how much that giant, lovable elephant meant to me!

Another Look at PGH: Brasserie 33 (or as I like to say Brasserie <3 <3)

October 2011

Brasserie 33 had me at “lamb shank,” and it was love at first bite.  Unfortunately, the love bordered on bittersweet and fleeting.  The lamb was a special, and the subsequent three visits dazzled diners with brand new plates on the chalkboard menu.  These subsequent visits were fine meals, comprenez-moi bien, but I had tasted the divine on that first visit, and all I could think of was the way that lamb literally fell off the bone into the rich gravy.  My longing was so extreme, I gave my phone number to the manager on my third visit after she offered to call me when the lamb returned to the menu.

Header_brasserie 33

The owner’s plans for the coveted plate happened to fall right around the time of Heather & Jess’s visit to Pittsburgh.  I would have slated Brasserie 33 for the weekend regardless.  As I said, it’s an overall fine dining experience, especially if like moi, you look for any and all excuses to experience doses of France, your adopted motherland, in your day.  My quest for the lamb continued, so I arrived at the restaurant, wide eyed and hopeful, with my two friends in tow.

The above may seem like an exaggerated passion for a plate.  It’s not.  I had declared my love of that lamb shank so exuberantly, the owner recognized me, pointed to the menu and awaited for the ensuing excitement to wash over my face.  Stars had aligned?  The universe had conspired with my personal legend?  I had put enough positivity into the world to reap the protein benefits?  Fate smiled upon me?  Whatever the cause, there were three lamb dinners left, and the owner quickly reserved one for our table.

Can’t take Jess anywhere.  She nearly burned down the entire establishment, just as I was about to find fulfillment in the form of gravy goodness.  Luckily, her accidental pyro side just made for an antique menu aesthetic.

For starters…

Blackened Sea Scallops

The blackened surface made for a sweet, almost caramelized contrast to the more savory flavors of the scallop.  Paired with the mix of cooked and fresh vegetables over pasta, the dish was simple, classic and quickly divvied.

Tartare de Boeuf  
Traditional French beef tenderloin tartare

We initially had our eyes on a different appetizer, but apparently many a diner prior to us had the same idea, so we had to pick a new option.  For the sake of comparison with our Salt of the Earth experience the night before, we selected the tartare de boeuf.  Our vote was unanimously in favor of the French experience.  The herbs simultaneously asserted their individual flavors and worked in harmony with the beef.  I did prefer the quail egg at Salt, but all in all, we were quite pleased with Brasserie 33’s version.

The Highly Anticipated Special:  Lamb Shank

I really want to leave a large, white space here to symbolize a lack of words because my experience of eating this lamb was one of few words, bordering on complete silence.  The lamb was that good!  For the wait, which was no time at all really, our waiter brought us a complimentary plate of French fries, which have a delicious way of soaking up the rich gravy.  It was well worth the multiple visits to be reunited again with this menu special.

When I say the lamb fell off the bone, I am not being proverbial.  A plastic butter knife easily could have cut through that shank.  For my obvious zeal and enthusiasm, my friends bestowed the marrow upon me, and I humbly accepted.  After ranting, raving and salivating, I should probably put in some moral disclaimer about eating lamb, but I can’t.  Someone could have sang “Mary Had A Little Lamb” to me, and I wouldn’t have heard a single note.  Call me cruel, call me insensitive, but definitely call me when this plate is on the menu board again!

There was no room for dessert, especially since we already had partaken in the new course known as appetentrée.  Zee petit frite called it quits, delicious, delicious quits.

Fin.

Everybourbon Says I Love You: The Menu

February 2011

This Valentine’s Day was an ode to a very special moustache that often saves bits of Bulleit for later. Accordingly, I went big, and I went Bourbon!

THE RECIPES

Entrée:  Bourbon Glazed Ham

Ingredients

1  cup  honey
1/2  cup  molasses
1/2  cup  bourbon
1/4  cup  orange juice
2  tablespoons  Maine Maple Mustard
1  (6- to 8-pound) smoked ham half
Cloves
Garnish: fresh herb sprigs

Directions

Combine honey and molasses in a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to blend.

Whisk in bourbon, orange juice, and mustard.

Remove excess fat.  Place ham in a roasting pan.  Insert cloves to garnish.  Use a brush to glaze the sides with the bourbon mixture.

Bake at 325° on lower oven rack for 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 140°, basting occasionally with honey mixture.

Allow to cool slightly.

Remove cloves.

Slice and serve.

Side Dish:  Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

About 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing the baking dish
1/2 pound frozen cranberries
1/2 pound dried cherries, rehydrated in bourbon
1 cups raw sugar
1 cup local honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup bourbon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients in a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish.

Cover tightly with foil and bake until cranberries are tender and sugar is dissolved, stirring once, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, carefully remove the foil and allow the cranberry sauce to cool completely.

Refrigerate cranberry sauce until well chilled. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead.)

Transfer to bowl and serve.

Side Dish:  Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

5-6 chubby, red-fleshed sweet potatoes
Splash of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1-inch square of ginger, peeled and grated
2 generous pinches of ground cinnamon
1 generous pinch of ground cloves
Zest of one organic orange
3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Splash of milk (2T. or so)
Splash of bourbon (2T. or so)
1/4 freshly grated Pecorino cheese

Spicy Pecan Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon red chile powder
3 tablespoons cider vinegar

For the Sweet Potatoes

Preheat the oven to 375.

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into medallions.

Toss the sweet potato medallions in a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in a single layer on a baking stone.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating from top to bottom halfway through, until tender and golden.

Remove from oven and let cool.

In a glass baking dish, layer the sweet potato medallions, overlapping slightly.

Sprinkle with the lemon zest, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.

Cover tightly and place in refrigerator. You can assemble to this point a couple days in advance.

For the Spciy Pecan Topping

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter and add the pecans. Saute for 2-3 minutes or until the pecans are lightly browned and smell fragrant.

Stir in the brown sugar, stir until it is lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the spices, and then add the apple cider vinegar. Stir until the liquid evaporates. Pour pecans out onto parchment lined baking sheet, separate the nuts into a single layer, and bake at 375 for 4 minutes.

Let cool.

An hour before serving

In a small bowl whisk together butter, maple syrup, milk and bourbon. Drizzle all of the sauce over the sweet potatoes, sprinkle with Pecorino, cover with foil, and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes.

Uncover and continue baking until deeply golden and caramelized – another 15-20 minutes.

Sprinkle with spicy pecans and serve.

Dessert:  Bourbon Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Bread Pudding Ingredients

10 cups of stale bread pieces from homemade rolls
1 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup bourbon, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for dish
8 large, local, free-range, egg yolks
¾ cup organic packed light brown sugar
¾ cup pure maple syrup
3 cups local heavy cream
1 cup local whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 package Ghirardelli chocolate chips

Bourbon Topping Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup bourbon, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons raw sugar
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons organic unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Bread Pudding

Heat the dried cherries and 1/2 cup bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until bourbon begins to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the mixture, placing the bourbon and raisins in separate bowls.

In a large bowl, whisk yolks, brown sugar, maple syrup, heavy cream, milk, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup bourbon plus the bourbon used to plump the dried cherries. Toss in the toasted bread until evenly coated. Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips.  Let mixture soak overnight, tossing occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Butter 13 by 9-inch baking dish, and set aside.

Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle.  Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your fingers, pinch 6 tablespoons butter into sugar mixture until the crumbs are the size of small peas.  Remove foil from pudding, sprinkle with butter mixture, and bake, uncovered, until custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake until top of pudding forms golden crust, about 2 minutes.

Let the pudding cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours). Serve with bourbon topping.

For the Bourbon Topping

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and 2 tablespoons bourbon until well combined.

Using a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in cornstarch mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat, and stir in salt, butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon.

Drizzle warm sauce over heart-shaped, bread pudding.

Mustachio Pie and a Sausage Torte Celebration

September 2010

That first day, in the sunny park, when we shared Greek food and laziness, neither of us had foreseen a one-year anniversary.  We had long been saying we’d been “hanging out” for “two weeks,” but the one year  moment was nigh!  When had “two weeks” really turned into one year?  When had we first spent that sunny afternoon together?  When had we both altered our schedules so our work shifts would align?  I found an email I sent to a friend when I was in that gushing state of mind:  August 19, 2009.

For most of those “two weeks,” the dashing carpenter had complied with my mustache request.  He referred to the “caterpillar” on his lip as “your mustache.”  He’d spend his evenings in his armchair, watching the news and combing his mustache with the tip of a metal, mechanical pencil, saving his facial hair frustration and complaints for me.

The month of August was beyond busy with Hothouse preparations, so our official anniversary came and went before I had time to properly commemorate.  This was my first one-year anniversary ever, so I wasn’t about to let it slip away completely unnoticed.  Following the “belated equals bigger surprise” school of thought, I pushed my plans to September.  I had just the present in mind for my gentleman friend and my mustache:  Mustachio Pie and a Mustache Grooming Kit!

Pie Dough Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the Chocolate Pie Dough

Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa in a large bowl.

Use a pastry blender or a fork to cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size bits of butter throughout. (Or combine dry ingredients in a food processor, then pulse in butter.)

Drizzle in 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water at a time (up to 6 tablespoons total), tossing after each addition, and using only enough water to make dough clump together when squeezed. Add vanilla (if using).

Pat dough into a disc, tightly cover with plastic wrap or parchment, and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days (or freeze for up to 3 months).

To Make Pie: Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a rolling pin to press the disc of dough into a circle large enough to cover a 9inch pie plate. Press dough into bottom, sides, and along the rim of pan to uniform thickness. Trim excess dough; embellish edges. Chill 20 minutes.

Cover the edges of the pie with tin foil to avoid crisping or burning. Bake 18-20 minutes until the crust is baked through.  Cool on a rack.

Pie Filling Ingredients

1 1/2 cup(s) half-and-half
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup(s) pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bakers chocolate
3 tablespoons local amish butter
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
zest of one organic orange
pistachios, finely chopped

For the Pie Filling

Whisk half-and-half, yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and bubbles.

Cook 1 minute more and remove from heat.  Stir in the bakers chocolate, butter, and vanilla.

Stir in the orange zest.

Pour into pie shell.

Cool partially and garnish with a pistachio mustache.

Cool completely. Transfer to refrigerator to set, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

The Mustachio Pie was my top priority for the evening celebration, but a couple cannot live on pie alone (though, the dashing carpenter might argue otherwise).

Two very important parts of the dinner were ready:  the dessert and the wine.  It was time to add the main course before the arrival of the man.

Sausage Torte

Ingredients
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
1 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 large organic red potatoes, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 small organic summer squash, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 links Italian sausage, crumbled and sautéed in olive oil
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Butter rectangular baking dish.

Layer half the potatoes in rows in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly.

Toss cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer half the squash in rows atop potatoes.

Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.

Sprinkle with half the cheese mixture.

Add all the sausage and repeat potato, squash and cheese layer.

Sprinkle onions over top and cover with foil.

Bake about 40 minutes.

Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer.

Add to the anniversary table!

Happy Anniversary Carpenter!

I wonder what the next “two weeks” has in store?!?!

 

[Mush]tass[ch]ies

August 2009

Keith and I met at a sweaty, dirty, greasy, bicycle-loving, dance party, and it sure was a swell summer time!  We spent a lot of time together that summer.  We were both funemployed and taking advantage of the staycation life.  In between tennis matches in little shorts and sweatbands (Keith’s uniform), soccer games, dips in the local watering holes, stoop dining and farmer’s market grazing, I learned that Keith had a real affinity for tassies.  I also learned how much attention he gave to his facial hair.  Conveniently enough, I had a way of combining those two Keith attributes for his 27th birthday:

27 Little Chocolate Tassies with Mustaches!

Kitchen Cliffs Notes: A whole-wheat pastry & cream cheese dough, a chunk of high-quality, dark chocolate in each pastry cup, maple syrup instead of corn and a sprinkle of sugar “stuck” in the mustache just like real life.

One thing is for certain:  27 chocolate [mush]tass[ch]ies do not last very long!  They do, however, make for a very fun photo shoot!

Happy 27th Keith!