Monday, September 15, 2014

Coffee-Caramel Creme Brulee

Hey, I own a torch.  I like coffee.  Why aren't I eating this?  From this list on BuzzFeed of coffee desserts.  There's lots of other yummy desserts here, this one is the best of the bunch, imo.

Coffee-Caramel Creme Brulee
from Bon Appetit

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided 
  • 1/4 cup dark-roast coffee beans (such as French roast; about 3/4 ounce), crushed with mallet in plastic bag 
  • 1 cup sugar, divided 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 2 cups half and half 
  • 8 large egg yolks 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 8 teaspoons raw sugar* 
Bring 1 cup cream and coffee beans to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep at least 20 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Stir 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, swirling pan occasionally, about 11 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add remaining 1 cup whipping cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel is smooth. Stir in half and half. Strain coffee-infused cream into caramel cream; discard coffee beans in strainer.

Whisk yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in cream mixture. Strain custard into large measuring cup.

Arrange eight 2/3- to 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups in roasting pan. Divide custard among ramekins. Add enough warm water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins or custard cups.

Bake custards until just set in center, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer custards from water bath directly to refrigerator. Chill uncovered until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

Sprinkle top of each custard with 1 teaspoon raw sugar. Using kitchen torch, melt sugar on each custard until deep amber. (Alternatively, preheat broiler. Arrange custards on small rimmed baking sheet; broil until sugar topping melts and browns, about 2 minutes.) Refrigerate custards until sugar topping hardens, at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour (do not chill longer than 1 hour or topping will start to soften). Serve custards cold.

*Also called turbinado or demerara sugar; available at most supermarkets and at natural foods stores.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

To Remember

Today our nation will pause, as it has done for the past thirteen years, to remember, to reflect.

The events of September 11, 2001 are seared in our minds.  On that particular day, I left for work, dropped my car off for service, and when I picked it up that afternoon, the world had changed.  Each year since starting this blog, I have posted to remember the day.  Feel free to go back and read the previous posts:
Take a minute today.  Take several minutes.  Remember. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

SoBA is after me to produce some more banana bread.  Think he would notice if I make this substitution?  From averiecooks

Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)
Baking with zucchini keeps everything so soft, moist, and you can't taste it. The muffins taste like banana bread. The one-bowl, no-mixer muffins are vegan and healthy. No butter, no eggs, the chocolate chips are solely sprinkled on top, and they're made with coconut oil. It adds a nearly imperceptible undertone that’s sweeter and more fragrant than canola or vegetable oil, but substitute if you’d like. Between the softening powers of coconut oil, the creamy bananas that add tenderness, and the moisture-enhancing powers of zucchini, these are some of the softest and moistest muffins. They continue to get softer as the days pass, and the flavors marry together and tasted better the second day. You'll never complain about eating your vegetables after these muffins. 

Yield: about 11 medium/large muffins
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: about 18 minutes, note reduction in oven temp after 10 minutes
Total Time: about 40 minutes, for cooling

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (vegetable or canola oil may be substituted) 
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coconut, soy, rice, cow's milk may be substituted) 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 2 small/medium bananas) 
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini, measured loosely laid in cup (not packed in or squeezed; about 1 medium zucchini, I didn't peel it) 
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder 
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste 
  • about 11 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips divided, about 1 teaspoon for each muffin (regular-sized chips may be substituted)

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a Non-Stick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan very well with floured cooking spray or grease and flour the pan; set aside. (I don't prefer the cosmetic look of muffin liners and I am not sure if the paper will stick to the muffins). 
  2. To a large bowl, add the first 6 ingredients, through cinnamon, and whisk to combine. 
  3. Add the bananas and whisk to combine. 
  4. Before adding the zucchini, put it in a paper towel and squeeze tightly for about 10 seconds to remove some moisture. After squeezing, you should have about 3/4 cup of compacted shreds. Add zucchini to bowl and stir to incorporate. 
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, optional salt and stir until just combined; don't overmix. 
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, 1/4-cup measure, or spoon, turn batter out into prepared pan, noting that the recipe yields 11 muffins. If I try to make 12 given my muffin pan, the muffins are too skimpy but pans vary. Each cavity should be filled to about 3/4 full, but not exceeding or batter could overflow. 
  7. Sprinkle the top of each muffin generously with mini chocolate chips, about 1 teaspoon each. 
  8. Bake at 400F for 10 minutes, reduce oven temp to 350F and bake for 8 minutes, or until muffins are set, domed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they've firmed up and are cool enough to handle. It's normal for muffin tops to be flatten as they cool. Muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. I find the muffins get softer over time and taste better on days 2-3 after the flavors have married.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Grilled Rack of Lamb

Today is Labor Day.  The unofficial end of Summer.  But my grill sees year round work.  I've even made leg of lamb on the grill when the oven died one Easter.  Labor Day is the day usually set aside for that one last cookout with friends and family.  But if I'm making this . . . it might just be me.  OK, me and Mrs. BA.  Maybe LBA and SoBA.  Maybe.  We did have Mr. C in DC's outstanding Brazilian Beef Ribs on Saturday evening - so the grill quota is good.  And yesterday, we took in many fried fair foods at the Maryland State Fair.  Recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon

Easy Grilled Rack of Lamb with a Creamy Feta-Horseradish Sauce 
Serves 3 to 4
Creamy Feta-Horseradish Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup crème fraiche 
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled 
  • 2 tablespoon buttermilk (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper 
  • pinch of sea salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon minced marjoram (oregano is fine) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary 
  • 1 rack of American lamb 

  1. Preheat grill to 375˚F. (over high heat)
  2. For the sauce: Place all ingredients into a food processor and whip until smooth. Adjust seasonings and set aside. 
  3. French the ribs of the rack (unless you’ve already had a butcher do so for you) and wrap the tips of each rib with about an inch of aluminum foil.
  4. Place the thyme, oregano and rosemary into a small bowl and toss together. Set aside. 
  5. Once the grill is hot, brush both the rack and grill with extra virgin olive oil and generously season the rack with herb mix, salt and pepper, on both sides.
  6. Place rack on the grill, fat side down and sear for about 4 minutes. Flip the rack and continue to sear for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the flames to medium and cover the grill. Allow the rack to grill with the cover closed, for about 6 to 8 minutes (keeping a close eye out for flame ups), uncover the grill allow the rack to continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. This will give you medium to medium-rare results. For a medium to medium-well rack of lamb, keep grill cover closed for 8 to 10 minutes. 
  7. Remove from heat and transfer the lamb onto a cutting board and loosely cover with foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  8. Serve rack with sauce and roasted radishes.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blackberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumble

From Love and Olive Oil

Blackberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumble
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

For Filling:
  • 16 ounces (3 cups) fresh blackberries 
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • pinch salt 
For Topping:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate 
  • flake sea salt (such as Maldon) 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. To prepare filling, toss blackberries with flour, sugar, and lemon juice. Divide filling among four 6-ounce or two 12-ounce ramekins and arrange on a baking sheet (to catch any overflow). 
  3. To make topping, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Add oats, flour, and salt and mix until incorporated. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Stir in mini chocolate chips. Generously crumble over top of blackberries. (You may not need to use all the topping, that's ok, it's basically an eggless oatmeal cookie dough so munch away!) Sprinkle with more chocolate chips (if desired) and flake sea salt. 
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until fruit filling is bubbling and cookie topping is light brown and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving warm with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Watermelon Margaritas

Last week was the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists.  And there may have been some drinking.  This week, LBA and SoBA and at Camp BA's Sister and Camp Nana, respectively.  There may be more drinking.  Perhaps one of these lovely summer coolers.  From Sugar and Charm

Refreshing Watermelon Margarita
  • 3 ounces fresh watermelon juice 
  • Juice of 1.5 limes 
  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed orange juice 
  • 2 ounces tequila 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or agave 

Add all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain over a glass with ice.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's A Beautiful Night for Baseball!

Tonight is the annual outing where I invite 200 of my closest archival friends to a baseball game during the Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists.  With the SAA Annual Meeting here in Washington, DC this year, that means the Washington Nationals.  Tonight, the Nats will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates (which was the team that we saw the first time I organized this outing, lo these many years ago).

Here's a post that came out on BuzzFeed back at the beginning of the baseball season on why "Baseball is the Best Sport for Anxious Fans." (click the link to see the associated pictures with the text below)

We all know the horror of watching your closing pitcher blow a lead. But for the overall anxious among us, baseball provides invaluable respite.

  1. There are 162 games in a season. Day One! So filled with hope! With so many games on the schedule, losses are easier to stomach than in other sports… 
  2. Each game is roughly three hours long. So over the course of a season, you invest an unspeakable amount of time and nervous energy into baseball that might otherwise be pent up in anxiety.
  3. Baseball stadiums are significantly less stressful than arenas for other sports. Your team is down by 5 runs? Shrug it off, go buy yourself a $25 hot dog. So get out there, the sun’s good for you. Just don’t forget sunblock.
  4. The pace of the game is rarely stressful due to its slow pace. We all know those strikeout, fly out, ground out innings. Which gives you time to get to know your favorite players and their quirky personalities.
  5. However, something exciting could happen at any moment, which helps keeps your focus on the game and not on external stressors. Honestly, whose day wouldn’t be made better by a Bartolo Colon home run? 
  6. Following the game closely could actually stimulate your brain in a calming way.
  7. Diving deep into the world of complicated statistics can be tranquilizing for the more obsessive of us. 
  8. Nostalgia, considered a reprieve from emotional distress, goes hand in hand with baseball. Much has been written about the traditional and ritualistic nature of the game. Richard Skolnik says “Baseball memories are said to be memories of America’s youth, and to represent rich receptacles of traditions and values as meaningful as the greater socio-cultural context in which the game is played.”
  9. Even after the stressful end of the season, you have a long offseason to recover.
  10. Yet nothing puts a smile on your face like waking up and realizing pitchers and catchers are set to report that day.