lemon curd tarts with minted strawberries, and some thoughts on food blogging

lemon curd tarts with minted strawberries // erniebufflo.comI used to write a lot about food (see tab up top). I consider “food” a hobby of mine–mostly in the making/eating department, but the truth is, I spend a lot of time thinking about food. I read recipes just to get ideas for things I will later wing on my own. I read cookbooks like other women might thumb through a fashion magazine. I know a lot of people are all “ain’t nobody got time for that” in terms of cooking dinner most nights, but we all make time for the things that we love, and for me, I love making and eating good food. Still, somewhere along the way, I stopped writing much about food. Part of it is, I see a lot of semi-plagiarism in the food blogging community. “Adapted from” is so often mostly “lifted entirely,” and I think instead of just slightly changing the wording on someone else’s recipe (which is legal– you can’t copyright an ingredients list, only the written-out process, so if you rewrite all the steps, you’re really not infringing on someone else’s copyright), sometimes you should just skip all that and link to the person who inspired you instead of pretending you created something new.  Continue reading

Bourbon Blackberry Cobbler (with cornmeal crust!)

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Last night I wanted to make an extra special dinner to celebrate my husband’s first shift in his new job. While I often joke that my Colorado mountain man had to marry a Southern girl for the cookin’, the truth is, I didn’t cook that much until about a year after our marriage. Since then it’s become a major hobby, and I can now improvise my own recipes, which is super fun, like my own imaginary iron chef challenge. I improvised this cobbler recipe based on several recipes that I know and love, and it would work well with peaches or mixed berries, too. Bourbon and peach are actually a favorite flavor combo of mine– one I use in my famous summer boozy popsicles. Feel free to skip the bourbon portion of the recipe altogether, if booze isn’t your thing, but do know that it’s really just a warm, sweet accent to the warm, sweet fruit, not a boozy punch in the mouth.

Bourbon Blackberry Cobbler (with cornmeal crust!)

Filling:

  • 2 qts Blackberries (or fruit of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 T butter

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 9 T (one stick plus one tablespoon) butter, very cold
  • Several tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 425.

To make the filling, combine all ingredients but the butter in a large bowl and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.

To make the crust, using a food processor, pulse together flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar. Then add the pats of butter and pulse until the butter pieces are pea-sized. Then drizzle the ice water through the spout of the processor while pulsing until the dough begins to form a ball. I tend to overdo it with the water because I’m scared the dough won’t hold together, so I find it works better to pulse a few times in between drizzles to give it a chance to really mix.

Now, here you have an option. Some folks might like this more like a pie, with a bottom crust, rolled out and folded over. If you want to roll out your crust, form dough into a disc and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before rolling out on a floured surface to 1/4 in. thickness, draping over a 2-qt pie pan or baking dish, filling with the fruit mixture which is then topped with the reserved 4 tablespoons of butter, and then folding over the edges of the crust over top of the fruit.

Other folks (ahem, yours truly) prefer the quickest route to Cobbler Town. What I do is pour my fruit mixture into my baking dish (I used a square Pyrex, but sometimes I do individual mini cobblers in ramekins), topping it with the butter, and then taking handfuls of my dough, flattening them with my hands to about 1/4 in. thickness, and cobbling together a crust to cover the filling. No refrigerating the dough necessary.

Whichever crust method you choose, place the now full of cobbler baking dish on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow, and bake at 425 until bubbling and golden brown, 45 minutes or so. Serve warm with ice cream on top.

 

kitchen catch-all

My Kitchen Catch-all posts are a roundup of what I cooked, where I ate, what I’m thinking of cooking, and what’s got my brain cooking each week.  Let me know what you think, and tell me what you’ve been cooking lately!

eating in

This isn’t everything I cooked this week, but more of a highlight reel.

  • The best dinner I made all week was this French Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart. (At the time of writing, this link was giving me “database errors” but I swear it’s where I got the recipe.)
  • The same night we ate the tomato tart, I also made us a fancy dessert: Honey Lemon Pots de Creme.  Usually, you see chocolate pots de creme, and though I love them, they’re not very summery.  This recipe makes a VERY lemony, tart, creamy dessert. Jon wasn’t crazy about them, but I was a fan. Be sure to grate the lemon zest very fine or it will make for a strange texture.
  • Berries in Meringue bowls with Orange-Scented Chocolate and Vanilla Cream: Because the pots de creme used a bunch of egg yolks, I had a bunch of whites left over.  I had seen an episode of Jamie Oliver this week where he made a big meringue with pears and chocolate and cream and decided to try something similar.  My vision was to have little bowls made of meringue, filled with summery berries and drizzled with orange-scented chocolate and sweet vanilla cream.  To make the meringue, I whipped my six egg whites until they formed firm peaks, then added about a cup and a half of sugar and a pinch of salt and whipped on high for about 8 minutes.  I formed the meringue into 6 little bowl shapes on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and baked for about an hour at 300.  I filled each bowl with blackberries, and drizzled them with chocolate (the chocolate was bittersweet chocolate, melted with the zest of 1 orange and thinned out with a little cream) and topped them with a vanilla cream (1.5 cups heavy cream whipped with 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla). SO YUMMY.

    Ok, so, you can't see the berries, the cream would look better if it had been piped on, and the chocolate wasn't thin enough for pretty drizzling. STILL. This was amazing.

eating out

Much like I did for Charleston restaurants, I plan to make a running list of places I’ve tried in Little Rock.

  • Wednesday night I joined some girlfriends from church for a girls’ night at Salut Bistro on University.  The restaurant is a little hard to find, as it’s in the first floor of what seems to be a tall office building, and the entrance isn’t clearly marked.  I had a yummy $6 glass of Kung Fu Girl riesling from Washington and enjoyed a beef brisket sandwich with a side of fries.  The sandwich was tasty, and the fries were well seasoned.  The menu was a bit scattered, but the food was good, and I think everyone I was with enjoyed their meals.  They also have a late-night menu that looked pretty good– might have to go back and see what that’s like sometime.

food for thought

  • I’ve been meaning to try my hand at making my own pitas for a while. Now I’ve got my eye on making some tzaziki sauce to go with them (Serious Eats).
  • My favorite restaurant in Charleston was the Glass Onion.  Located just around the corner from our house, the GO was a regular haunt for us. I liked things there that I wouldn’t eat anywhere else, including biscuits and gravy and meatloaf. Their delicious Southern food is also deeply local, and they served as the pickup point for our CSA. All this to say, they have a blog, and word is they’re going to be putting out a cookbook.  I was happy to see they shared their Country Captain recipe and plan to make it soon. It’s a Southern curry dish– yes, there is such a thing!
  • I’ve also been dreaming of replacing my non-stick KitchenAid cookware for a stainless steel set. Serious Eats says the Tramontina sets sold at WalMart are basically as good as 5 x’s pricier AllClad sets.
  • First cupcakes, then macarons, then whoopie pies. Apparently the next big dessert trend, according to The Kitchn, is Moon Pies.
  • From The Atlantic, a theory about why we love food TV so much.

bufflo’s boozy peach cobbler

Along with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bourbon is one of my favorite things.  Somewhere high on the list is also peach cobbler.  So I decided to combine the two into a boozy peach cobbler, to great effect, and I thought I’d share my recipe, created after looking at several recipes and finding none I loved, with you.

You can't go wrong with Maker's Mark.

Local Arkansas peaches!

This cobbler has a rustic cornmeal crust, which I think really goes well with the peaches and adds to the Southern appeal.

Rustic Cornmeal Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • generous pinch salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 9 T frozen or very cold butter cut into cubes
  • 3-4 T ice cold water

Pulse the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar together 2 or 3 times in the bowl of a food processor fitted w/ a plastic blade.  Add the cold butter and pulse another 8 or 10 times, until the mixture looks like small peas.  Drizzle the cold water through the mouth of the processor while pulsing until the mixture starts holding together (It may take you more water. That’s fine. My crust didn’t hold together very well, so I wish I had added more water).  Turn the pastry onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 2 inch thick disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Boozy Peach Cobbler:

  • Peaches (I had about 8 smallish peaches, another time I had 4 softball sized peaches, so you be the judge of what will fit in your dish)
  • 1/2 cup honey (or sugar, if you don’t keep that much honey around)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 T bourbon (or more, you can never have too much!)
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • Cinnamon to your taste (I like cinnamon, so I used 1 tsp)
  • 4 T butter

Preheat oven to 425. Peel and slice the peaches and mix with all ingredients except the butter.  After your crust has chilled, roll out to 1/4 inch thickness on a floured surface and transfer gently to your pie dish/cake pan/whatever you’re using, letting excess hang over the sides.  Pour in the peach mixture, placing pats of butter on top.  Fold over the overhanging crust, tearing off peaces to cover the middle if necessary. Place the cobbler in a rimmed cookie sheet to catch any overflow of the bubbling filling and bake at 425 for 40-50 minutes, until bubbling and crust is nicely browned.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Excuse the chipped bowl. We had a few years without a dishwasher, and they got chipped all to heck in the hand washing.

what it’s like to be married to me

Image via Flickr user MonsieurLui under a Creative Commons license.

Last night I may or may not have delivered a soliloquy on the word “vulva” to my husband while he was trying to read. That’s what it’s like to be married to me.  I’ll make you chocolate whiskey pots de creme on a weeknight, but you might have to endure my monologues (aka rants) on occasion. I hope the trade-off in chocolate and other delicious foodstuffs is worth it.

puddin’ head

Image via Flickr user Navin75 under a Creative Commons license.

The last time my mother was in town, we took her to The Hominy Grill, one of our favorite Charleston restaurants, and a media favorite too– I know Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown are big fans.  We told her she absolutely had to try the chocolate pudding, as it was the best we’d ever had.  So thick it’s practically ganache, so rich it’s practically deadly, and so dark it bears almost no relation to the milk chocolate pudding cups most of us carried in our school lunchboxes, it’s one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.  It’s also one of Alton Brown’s picks for “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” as our waitress told us when we were there with my mother.  Alton knows his stuff.  This is pudding so good, Jon got a little embarrassing mmmmm-ing and ahhhh-ing in what was basically a chocolate pudding-gasm at the table, right there with my mother in the middle of the most polite city in America.

Today, I got a hankerin’ for some Hominy Grill chocolate pudding and thought I’d use Google to find something similar.  But it turns out it’s not a closely guarded secret, and I found a .pdf of the Hominy Grill chocolate pudding recipe from local food writer Holly Herrick (I just got her Charleston Chef’s Table cookbook and her Southern Farmers Market Cookbook, so check those out!).  It came out absolutely delicious, and a chocolate pudding-gasm definitely ensued.  Because I couldn’t find the recipe in easily linkable form, I thought I’d reproduce it here.  It seems to have been originally published Jan. 5, 2008 in the Charleston Post and Courier.

Hominy Grill Chocolate Pudding
chef Robert Stehling

  • 8 ounces dark, Belgian bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Reserve chocolate in a large bowl.  Separately, whisk 1/4 cup sugar into egg yolks.  Mix remaining sugar with cream and vanilla in medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour a little hot cream into the bowl with the egg yolks and whisk, then pour the remainder of the cream over the chopped chocolate, stirring with a spatula until smooth.  Add the egg yolk mixture and salt, and then strain into a pitcher.  Refrigerate to cool.

Pour into 2/3 cup ramekins (I have no idea how much my ramekins hold, but it ended up being 8 ramekins full), place ramekins in a shallow pan half filled with water (water bath) and cook at 300 degrees for about an hour.  Chill for at least 3 hours before serving (we ate ours after only an hour and it was still delicious), and serve with a fat dollop of fresh whipped cream.