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daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers

halloween boo-burgers! that doesn't sound too much like boogers, does it?

okay, fine, “macarons”

Well, en français they’re called macarons. Silly Frenchies. Macarons were October’s Daring Bakers Challenge. I filled them with lime-colored peppermint buttercream, and decided they looked like little hamburgers, and since it’s that time of the year, they’re now officially Halloween Boo-Burgers. Yay!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I must be a real hick, because I’ve participated in Daring Bakers challenges two months now, and I’d never heard of either month’s baked good. Vols-au-vent? Macarons? Double-you-tee-eff, mate?

Turns out macarons aren’t those coconut cookie things. They’re simple-looking cookies made of almond flour and powdered sugar folded into egg whites that have been beaten into a meringue and slightly sweetened with granulated sugar. As a result, they’re kind of nutty and kind of sweet, but not overly so. A perfect macaron will have a thin crunchy outside, chewy inside, and crunchy “feet” at the base.

so close...must eat...

It’s quite easy to become obsessed with achieving the perfect feet.

macarons, first try

Word among the Daring Bakers was that this particular macaron recipe was a bit finicky. My first attempt, plain macarons, came out pretty well…. Read more on daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers…

October 21, 2009 in 100 calorie snack, desserts2 comments

caramelized Italian plums

italian prune plums, halved

Here’s a great way to use up Italian prune plums you may have lingering in the fridge. Sweetened just a bit and roasted in the oven, their flavor is intensified, and the plums create a rich, tart sauce. Caramelized Italian plums make a great topping — spoon them on ice cream, pound cake, or rice pudding. Read more on caramelized Italian plums…

October 14, 2009 in restaurants2 comments

in which we go out for japanese

tone eats tuna nigiri!

You know what sucks about dining in a small town? Other than 99% of the options being fast food or variations on TGI O’Applebee’s?

What sucks is the insufferable smugness of the locals who’ve a) found the rare gems of ethnic cuisine and b) are adventurous enough to enjoy them.

It’s not quite like that in larger towns. Nearly everyone is open to try nearly everything, and smugness is generally limited to status, not cuisines. People might get insufferably smug about scoring a dinner at Charlie Trotter’s, but hey, if you want to dump several hundred dollars on a meal, I’ll grant you that right.

In Chicago, I had five excellent Middle Eastern restaurants within a few blocks’ walking distance of my apartment. I knew which one was best for takeout, which had the best falafel, which the best spanakopitas, and the one great for taking visitors because it offered traditional floor seating on pillows, and hookahs, versus the one great for taking parents to that had bright open air seating and friendly waitstaff. There were also two Japanese restaurants, some Mexican bakeries, at least 3 tiny Thai joints, an old school Italian restaurant with a college town feel, and a bustling Little Saigon just a few blocks away with innumerable pho shops and storefronts with skinned ducks hanging in the windows. Read more on in which we go out for japanese…

pickles, to make you jealous

canned homemade dill pickles

Truly, these pickles only appear before you because I’m dead tired. Been working on a house all week and I’m a tad unused to hours of physical labor every day. It’s a good tired, I guess. There’s overdone tired and there’s muscles kind of achy but in the well-used and getting stronger way, and it’s the latter.

Read more on pickles, to make you jealous…

October 4, 2009 in main course, sandwiches, shameless plug6 comments

basil-garlic mayonnaise on a blt

blt with basil-garlic mayonnaise

Neat, this made Foodie Views of the day! They gave me a pretty button to go with it:

Have I ever mentioned that the last thing I gave up when going vegetarian was bacon? Beef: I never liked it anyway. Nearly the same with chicken. Fish: next to last. I like me some canned tuna.

yes, that is bacon. used in a perfectly normal, bacony way. dammit.

I’m not going to wax poetic about bacon, though. That’s so 2008. Are you as tired as I am of candied bacon, bacon smoothies, bacon popcorn, and bacon ice cream? I’m sure they’re wonderful, but all of the swooning over bacon is becoming a tad unseemly. Let’s be seemly, shall we?

an even closer look. that sandwich is gonna bite you.

Suffice to say

But have you ever had one with basil-garlic mayonnaise?

basil-garlic mayonnaise on toast, ready for bacon

It elevates the humble BLT to a thing of beauty. The fresh basil complements the tomato, the garlic enhances the bacon, and a few drops of hot pepper sauce add little heat but a lot of flavor.

ooh, free bread!

Now, the nice people at Nature’s Pride sent me a couple loaves of bread: 12-grain and 100% whole wheat. Since they sent me free stuff, I’m likely to say nice things about it, so be forewarned. They make their bread with all natural ingredients and no HFCS, which is a big plus for me. When my cousin and I were making the sandwiches, he asked what kind of bread I had, and stipulated, “No whole wheat.” I gacked, because I don’t keep anything but whole wheat around. He had to get whole grains anyway, in the form of the 12-grain loaf.

He survived, and said the 12-grain was really good. Whether he was being polite or not I’m not sure. Either way, I don’t care. My sandwich got validation. Read more on basil-garlic mayonnaise on a blt…