Tag Archives: Wood Grains

Cardamom Browned Butter (I’m Really Proud of This One!!!)

January 2013

I usually don’t boast when sharing recipes, but when it comes to this butter experiment, I feel entitled to brag!

Cardamom Browned Butter

I searched a few combinations of “browned butter” and “honey” and “cardamom,” and the most immediate results were recipes for cookies, streusels, cakes, etc, but what I wanted was that flavor combination in a butter. Just butter. I left Google momentarily, and I experimented. Once you try this flavor packed butter, you will understand why I feel entitled to boast about this experiment! After making enough for yourself, this simple, flavorful butter would make a great gift in a little jam jar for someone who deserves a little jam jar of heaven.

Browned Butter with Honey & Cardamom

Ingredients

1 stick organic, unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 Tablespoon clover honey

Directions

Heat a skillet or saucepan on medium heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking frequently.

Continue to cook the butter.

Once melted, the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further (and to prevent from burning).

Pour the browned butter into a small container.

Add the honey and cardamom and stir to combine.

Set the butter aside to cool and set.

Voila!

Cardamom Muffin Tin Rolls

January 2013

When menu planning, I often like to have a pervading ingredient. For this dinner gathering, the curry of the entrée inspired notes of cardamom in all the accompanying dishes. Rather than make a traditional flatbread, I spiced these whole-wheat, muffin-tin rolls with cardamom.

Cardamom Roll

I sprinkled the tops with Himalayan pink sea salt for a dash of color to channel the colorful and flavorful experience of walking through an Indian street scene. The final touch was a browned butter with honey and cardamom (recipe to come), making this roll ideal for dinner or breakfast or any snacking point in between the two!

Cardamom Rolls in Muffin Tin

Cardamom Muffin Tin Rolls
Adapted from Muffin Tin Mania

Ingredients

2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm milk, not boiling

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, plus more for kneading
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 large egg

Garnish

browned butter
Himalayan pink sea salt
poppy seeds

Directions 

Dissolve yeast in milk in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons olive oil, sugar, salt, cardamom and egg. Mix until combined.

Add 2 cups flour and mix until all the flour is moist.

Turn batter out onto a floured work surface and knead for 3 to 4 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour to the work surface and hands as needed.

Place dough in a large greased bowl, turning to coat.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down dough which means pushing down the centre of the dough with your fist and then pushing the edges of the dough into the centre using your fingertips.

Form dough into 36 equal sized balls and place 3 balls in each of 12 greased muffin cups.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush tops of dough with browned butter. Sprinkle with salt and poppy seeds.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until browned.

Elephants Were Hungry

Here’s to cardamom spiced luck & longevity!

My Birthday Dinner- Guess Where?

January 2013

This is an example of the dialogue that ensued on January 22, 2013 (ie: the day after my birthday)

Coworker: How was your birthday? Did you do anything fun?
Me: Great! Yeah, my Special One and I went out to dinner.
Coworker: Oh? Where did you go?
Me: I’ll give you two guesses…
Coworker: Meat and Potatoes?

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

MP Bar

T
hat beautiful bar! It gets me every time! The dark wood, the marble top, the fancy absinthe container, the way the rest of the restaurant wraps around it. The chef’s eye seems to be as talented as his palate because the food gets me every time too!

MP Branded Tables

Sgt. Pepper’s Old Fashioned
bulleit bourbon, black pepper & thyme syrup, whiskey barrel bitters, lemon

There always seems to be some new improvement at Meat and Potatoes too. This time around, I was pleasantly surprised by the branded tables! Branded tables! Then there’s my favorite cocktail the Sgt. Pepper’s, which is a shining example of the restaurant’s consistency in the areas where consistency counts. That Sergeant could make an alcoholic out of an honest woman.

MP Fried Brussels Sprouts

What may look like a mysterious mash was actually a heap of fried Brussels sprouts. Upon eating this amazing heap, cravings for another heap will ensue within three days maximum.

MP Moules

Mussels of the Day w/ Garlic Bread
fennel, tomato, dill, salmon roe and bacon

This was the gift of mussels that kept giving, which is a perfect concept for a birthday meal! After eating every single mussel, we clung fiercely to the sauce, denying every table busser who tried to remove the flavor laden sauce from our grasp. This seemed to earn us extra cred with our waiter who snagged us some extra garlic bread to reward our sauce loyalty. Why were we so adamant? The poutine was on its way, and that poutine meant one more delicious vehicle for a complex sauce!

Tartare and Poutine

Beef Tartare
Dry aged strip, smoked egg, chili, seaweed aioli

Poutine
Gravy & local cheese curd

MP Lamb Shank

Braised Lamb Shank
White beans, broccolini, kale, gremolata

If by this photo, you have visually consumed more food than seems appropriate for two people, know that by the lamb course, we had the same feeling. After a few quality control bites of this lamb shank, we had to throw in our rustic napkins, and call it “to go!” This meant my birthday dinner stretched over three nights. After lamb leftovers the following night, I made a poutine omelette with a side of kale sauteed in the mussels sauce.

It was the birthday meal that kept on giving!

Returning Home: The Local

December 2012

Like many a young suburban girl with eyes on city living, my plan was always to leave my hometown. As a little girl, the suburban backdrop was ideal. I had a big yard, where my imagination ran as wild as I did, and I had neighbors who were extensions of my family. I had softball games in big parks, and dinners from my parents’ garden. It was ideal, but as I filled my time with more than games of tag, I saw a city as a better fit for my personality, so I moved.

The Local Train Station

When I would return home for the holidays, the acres of new cul-de-sacs and chain stores would taint my nostalgia. The character of the town was on the decline with each new development, but on this holiday trip home, I found a resurgence of character in thoughtful redevelopment. Very simply, I found The Local!

The Local

Through partnerships with local food purveyors within very specific mile ranges from their kitchen, the restaurant’s commitment to their community is apparent, “Our mission is to show people how good local food can be. Our target customers are those who care about what they eat and are motivated like we are to keep money in the local economy as well as anybody just looking for a good meal….”  [= me!!!]

The Local Mural

What adds even more uniqueness to the menu is the venue! The Local serves the flavors of its community in a symbol of the town- a former train station. One can imagine the hustle and bustle f commuters, maybe even railcars filled with the local produce bound for Philadelphia markets. The antique elements (dark wood grains, radiators, mason jars, etc) come alive with the accents of red and the personality of the mural above the kitchen.

The Orchard Sandwich

The Orchard Sandwich
Fresh local turkey breast, crisp apple slices, hardwood smoked bacon, sharp cheddar and honey Dijon mustard on a *French round roll

The Local buys their breads from Bakers on Broad, another newer place I was hoping to hit on this trip, but I’ll have to visit next time I am home. Unfortunately, all the early bird lunchers ate the place out of sweet potato fries, but the regular ol’ spuds did the trick in their stead. The sandwich was delightful, and there are still so many more menu items I’d like to try!

From the Back Room

Though the window views revealed white, wintry skies, there were a few signs of lingering greens, and I could imagine the summer garden beds brimming with lettuces, herbs and fresh vegetables.

Places for Growing

Though a big part of me wishes such places had been around when I began to forge my own food philosophies, I couldn’t have found this reclamation at a better time in my own development. This holiday I found myself seeking to understand my roots more than ever as a woman, as a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend.

Quiet Local Window

I came home to unearth buried memories, forage for deeper conversation and plants seeds for more growth. As the restaurant nurtured its community, I finally reconnected with mine.

Returning Home: Down to Earth Cafe

December 2012

There are many reasons to support local businesses. Numbers and statistics might be your motivators. For every $100 you spend in locally owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spent that same $100 in a national chain, only $43 would return to your community. If you care about the longevity of your community, your $100 will probably reflect that.  Maybe you’re less driven by numbers, and the notion of people and community is enough. Maybe your motivator is supporting an effort that values people at every level.

Down To Earth Cafe

My recent trip home reaffirmed my belief in local community. Finding a lunch spot became a game of connect-the-dots. My starting dot was One Village Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster whose stance on community is evidenced by its name. Tracing the routes of coffee locations led me to Down To Earth Cafe, which incidentally led me to one very large and colorful rooster and a meal the whole family enjoyed together (the coffee dot also led me to The Local).

Rooster Art

In their own words, “Down to Earth is a casual Café located in the heart of Upper Bucks County. Our mission is two-fold. We want to create the most flavorful food using fresh ingredients and we also want to create a warm friendly place for you to enjoy our food. To ensure freshness, we will use organic and local products whenever possible…. We feel that local and organic foods are not only healthier to us and the environment, but simply taste better too.”

DTE Smoothies and Specials

There was only one troubling detail to be seen, and it’s a detail that would only matter to some. When a cafe claims to use organic when local is not a viable source, I find it objectionable to see very conventional brands of chocolate syrup and peanut butter being blended into a smoothie, knowing those brands use corn syrup unnecessarily and a laundry list of other preservatives. This isn’t an end all criticism. This is a challenge. These ingredient details matter if your mission states they matter (and if I was somehow wrong in my observations, I will gladly stand corrected).

DTE Quesadilla Special

Quesadilla Special
Boarshead roast beef, caramelized onions and American cheese w/ marinara sauce

Vegetable Sandwich

The Anti-Salerno
Zucchini, asparagus, eggplant, red peppers and other seasonal veggies grilled to perfection and tossed in a light olive oil. Topped with melted goat cheese on a warm ciabatta.

DTE Fish Taco Plate

Fish Tacos
Seasonal fish, beer battered and fried, in a soft taco shell smothered with house made cole slaw, tomatoes and avocado

DTE Crab Cake Sandwich

Housemade Crab Cake Sandwich*
Tartar sauce, organic mixed greens, tomato on a brioche bun
*Forever I will think of this as the sandwich that coerced my dad into both pronouncing and trying Quinoa!

From the large rooster painting, to the art on the walls, to the reclaimed wood of the tables… Down to Earth was just what I sought to support! It was healthy, flavorful food set against a unique backdrop. I may challenge the details, but overall, I was pleased my community connect-the-dots game led me Down to Earth!

Pumpkin Without Chocolate is Just Pumpkin

November 2012

There are some bakers and eaters and general complainers who begin to grumble early in November and say, “I am over pumpkin!” To which I reply, “but what about pumpkin and CHOCOLATE?!?!” By that point, I am too consumed by the thought of pumpkin and chocolate to listen to the complainers anymore. I’m a baking super heroine with a chocolate force field!

Pumpkin without chocolate is just pumpkin, BUT pumpkin WITH chocolate is…

Whip The Kraken Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons Kraken Rum

Directions

Chill the heavy cream in a bowl in the freezer until it just starts to freeze.

Remove from the freezer. Add the maple syrup and vanilla.

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat until peaks begin to form.

Release the Kraken, and add the rum. Mix until combined.

Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
2 cups organic raw sugar
4 eggs (local/free-range)
1 can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons instant espresso powder

Directions

Makes approximately one 9-inch cake for taking to a friend’s and extra cupcakes for you to keep!

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Oil the springform pan, and line cupcake pan with parchment liners (about 6-12 cupcakes, depending on size).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla and espresso powder.

Whisk flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until well combined then transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Set aside to let cool then cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar, if you like.

… divine!

Embracing Failure: An Apple Crisp Of Sorts

October 2012

Want to talk about failure?

No? You’re probably not alone. Most people don’t want to talk about failure. I happen to be a person who fears failure quite a bit, maybe even runs away from it, maybe even runs quite fast and quite far away from it. BUT the beauty of this big, wide world is that it is FULL of people and examples and conversations that have taught me failure isn’t the end. The beauty of this big, wide world is we are capable of changing how we fit in it. I am learning failure is just the brink of decision making; it teeters between settling and determining, between defeat and discipline.

A failed body image can transform into a culinary embrace. A failed marriage can become a display of strength and a fresh start. A failed yoga class…is the one I don’t attend for fear of “failing.” A failed business might be the very best example of how to start the next. A failed apple crisp can still be a crisp…of sorts!

I have a book, whose title I shall not mention, filled with pie, tart, crisp and crumble recipes. Being that it was fall, I thought it would be lovely to bring an apple crisp to the dinner party I was supposed to attend that night. The problem with the recipe I was referencing was the inclusion of the volume of the topping, as a whole, right above the total for the light brown sugar. Was I supposed to add all of those measurements together? They were in the same block of the ingredient chart, so I assumed yes. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I stared at a bowl containing an obvious abundance of brown sugar already mixed with the other ingredients.

Not to panic. An abundance of brown sugar isn’t the end of the world, but it could very well mean a trip to the dentist, so I developed a new plan. I compensated with butter! I added lots more butter, thinking I could turn the crumble into a crust, but when I pre-baked the “crust,” it began to melt and slip away from the pie plate. FAIL FAIL FAIL!

I had a mess of apples, ooey, gooey, spiced apples sweetened with the reduction of their juices. I had a melted crust. Slightly discouraged, I decided the slip ‘n slide crust could be an ugly but delicious base. I poured the apples atop the “crust” and returned the mishap to the oven, where it all began to bubble over the pie plate. I stared and stared at it, thinking of all the wasted ingredients, all the meaningless photos, and the failed attempts at winging it. The waste factor kept nagging and nagging, so I tried a scoop….not too bad. I tried another spoonful…not bad at all!

I stirred the juicy, apple mess into a container to take to the dinner party. I whipped cream into a Kraken Rum whipped cream, which incidentally had the very best consistency I have ever whipped to date! I offered a bit of an excuse when I presented the warm, apple mess to the table, and you know what happened to my failed crisp? It disappeared!

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
-Thomas A. Edison