Tuesday, January 20

Making Monsters - {Salty Sweet Honey Cake}

A unique cake. Divinely moist and honey flavored, frosted with salty-sweet whipped cream

I can feel their burdensome weight upon me in the evening, stiff in my back and tense in my jaw.

Under daylight, they tug at eyelids with the might of a thousand restless hours, masking me to muddle mind.

A unique cake. Divinely moist and honey flavored, frosted with salty-sweet whipped cream

I know that my monsters are my own creation. But even as they multiply, I can’t lay them to rest.

I’m trying to live a life of less worry, but… It’s hard. I know I’ve written about it before – it’s a product of caring, right? Of wanting things to be the way they should. Of feeling in control, or needing to anyway, of the things that could hurt me.

A unique cake. Divinely moist and honey flavored, frosted with salty-sweet whipped cream

But, obviously, I can’t.

It seems like it should be so easy to erase the fear, particularly when those around me are so carefree. And it hurts worst to see that it’s not just myself being driven to madness, but them too: annoyance radiating in eyes wrung of understanding, and ears too full for patience.

A unique cake. Divinely moist and honey flavored, frosted with salty-sweet whipped cream

Of course, I can’t blame anyone.

It’s not every day, but I often find myself resolved to silence, trying, no, begging, to rationalize something – anything – and make the worry, over such stupid things, just go away.

A unique cake. Divinely moist and honey flavored, frosted with salty-sweet whipped cream

To defeat the monsters.

To let life roll off my shoulders.

Oh what a wonderful thing that would be.

Salty-Sweet Honey Cake

This honey cake (adapted from Marcy Goldman by way of Epicurious) is ridiculously moist. It's dense and heavy, a perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee. Guests would be pleased to wake to this for breakfast. A note about the frosting: it's salted, intentionally. Taste after gradual additions to ensure it pleases the palette, and spread evenly around the cake for best results.

Also, before you get to cooking, I made honey roasted black walnuts to adorn this beauty (pictured gratuitously above), but I didn't like how they turned out. Until I fine-tune that recipe, I think this cake would be even more lovely than my rendition with a simple sprinkling of chopped salted almonds.

3 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c honey
3 eggs, whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 c water
3/4 c fresh orange juice

Oil a tube pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the sugar (which are generally considered a wet ingredient - but ignore that here).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until smooth.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in all of the wet ingredients. Mix, gently, using a whisk. Mix until there are no lumps, then pour into the pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 60 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and wrap tightly with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge.

Salted Honey Whipped Cream

3/4 c heavy cream, very cold
3 Tbsp honey
1/8 - 1/4 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a very cold bowl, and whisk until medium peaks form. Spread over the chilled cake.

Tuesday, January 13

Eggs - {Southwestern Migas Quiche}

Southwestern Migas Quiche - rich and satisfying. Make on Sunday and eat leftovers all week.

As a child, true fear was found in the warmth between a hen and her eggs; soon and perpetually rooted in red ridges up and down the length of my pale freckled arms.

But, it was a fear worth facing; an injury worth owning.

Southwestern Migas Quiche - rich and satisfying. Make on Sunday and eat leftovers all week.

It took a lot of working up, but in that moment of bravery, or something like it, I’d managed to capture my treasure. A dreamy-blue egg, now clasped between my uncertain and unbelieving hands.

It was perfect.

Southwestern Migas Quiche - rich and satisfying. Make on Sunday and eat leftovers all week.

Victorious, I raced through the coop for the house, ever wary of roosters along the way.

Though we never dined on our chickens (they were more pets than anything), I’m grateful to have been introduced to and intimately acquainted with food at a young age. With wonder thick around my eyes, I’d spend an eternity hunched over our incubator and waiting for life to surface. Unblinking and unmoving, I was the embodiment of fascination in those hours, breathless in watching as the chicks ponderously navigated their way out of their shells. Altogether herculean and slow, they’d force their way out and wiggle; awkward, uncomfortable, and alien; into this strange and wonderful world.

Southwestern Migas Quiche - rich and satisfying. Make on Sunday and eat leftovers all week.

Though it’s been a decade since I last held such a perfect thing in my hands, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at an egg without being taken back to our chicken coop and the creatures that inhabited it. I’m thankful for the memories, and, of course, for everything else they give to us.

Southwestern Migas Quiche - rich and satisfying. Make on Sunday and eat leftovers all week.

Southwestern Migas Quiche

What better way to honor the humble egg by dressing it up with cream and spice? Quiche is one of my favorite things to make and to eat, though I rarely stick to the same fillings. Inspired by a weekend staple for this round, I turned plain old migas into a fancy-looking migas quiche. Feast upon this at all times of the day a savory cumin-laden treat for your face hole. All of this is based upon this recipe from Food and Wine.

Buttery Pastry Shell

It’s a little weird to make pastry in a stand mixer, but it works. Don’t question it. This crust is flaky and a little shortbread-y in texture, perfectly matched for the hefty filling to come.

2 c flour, divided
1 tsp salt
1 c butter, cold and cut into 1/4” dice
1/4 c ice water

Place 1 cup of the flour and all of the salt in your stand mixer. Fit in the paddle attachment. On low speed, add one handful of butter, and mix until pretty well combined, about 45 seconds. Add another handful and continue in this fashion until all of the butter has been added. At this point, increase the speed to medium and mix until uniform. Blend in the remaining cup of flour.

Tip in the water and mix just to combine. Press dough into a flat round and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour, or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Dust your work surface with flour and dust the top of the pastry as well. Roll into an even 16” circle, about 3/16” thick. Transfer to a 9” springform pan (they recommend brushing the pan with oil, but, in my experience, that always makes the crust fall), and press tightly all around, folding the extra dough over the edge of the tin and pressing to seal. Be very careful not to stretch the dough at all at this point, as it can cause tearing and stretching. Refrigerate the shell for at least 20 minutes.

Set your oven to 375F. When it’s come to temp (and when your dough is fully chilled!), place a parchment round into your shell and fill with pie weights (don’t bother buying these, just use dried beans or rice). Be very careful that the weights make it pretty much all the way up the sides or else your pastry is likely to fall. Bake the shell for about 40 minutes, or until the edge of the dough is very lightly browned.

Remove the shell from the oven and carefully remove the pie weights and parchment. Gently dock the bottom of the pastry with a fork or a knife, and return to the oven for about 15 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Remove from the oven and cool on a baking sheet.

Migas Quiche Custard

I’m always surprised by the amount of liquid just a few eggs can thicken. This quiche is very rich, but it is also very good. Use the ratio of eggs to cream and milk as a canvas to create a quiche all your own. Just don’t forget the salt!

1 tbsp butter
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 c diced green pepper
1/2 c diced onion
1 seeded jalapeno, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
Handful cilantro, chopped
2 big handfuls of tortilla chips, crushed
2 c whole milk
2 c heavy cream
6 eggs
1-2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Tip in the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, chili, salt, and cayenne, stirring to combine. Don’t worry too much about sticking exactly to the numbers above – just estimate and you’ll be fine. Quiche is lazy and forgiving. Anyway, cook all that goodness over medium heat until soft. Stir in the cilantro. Now, fold your crushed chips into the pan. Did they soak up most of the liquid? Perfect – stop cooking and set the pan aside to cool. Did they not? Either keep cooking to reduce, or add a couple more chips. You want to be careful not to add too much additional liquid to the eggs, but you’ll be fine either way. No matter what happens, definitely set everything aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, and eggs.

While you’re waiting for the filling to cool, wrap the 9” springform pan well with aluminum foil – I like to use 3 layers in all different directions – to protect your oven in case of leaks. Preheat your oven to 325F.

If you think your filling is still too hot, go outside and shovel your driveway or something. But don’t leave your oven unattended!

Ok, now that the filling is no longer scalding hot to the touch, spread it evenly, but sorta roughly, around the bottom of the cooked shell. Sprinkle with whatever amount of cheese looks pleasing to you, and pour in the custard mix.

Carefully move your quiche to the oven, and bake it for about 1 1/2 hours, until the custard is mostly set in the center. Just jiggle it if you’re uncertain.

If you’re serving the quiche on the day you bake it, let it cool on a rack until you can comfortably handle it. Remove the quiche from the pan and slice into 8 wedges. Serve warm.

If you aren’t serving day-of, which is my preference, cool the quiche completely in its pan (if it’s cold enough outside, just stick it, covered, in the garage). Once completely chilled, remove the quiche from the pan and slice into 8 wedges. Reheat in the oven (350F for probably 20-30 min) or microwave (my pref, go for like 2 min) before serving.

As a note, as delicious as this quiche is, it’s not great cold – don’t be tempted to eat it straight from the fridge because you’ll be immediately aware of the fat content by the oil slick forming on the top of your mouth ;)

Friday, January 9

How To Make Parchment Cupcake/Muffin Liners

When I was making these Cinnamon Fig muffins last weekend, I noticed, quite unfortunately, that I was out of liners. I consulted the interwebs for some assistance and came across this page on The Kitchn. Those guys have an answer for EVERYTHING - I love it.

Having said that, this isn't really anything new/novel, but it's worth sharing. I think everyone should know this tip! It's way cheaper than buying parchment liners (I can't figure out why they charge so much for them at the store...), and a nice trick to have in you back pocket when you run out of baking supplies - or just want to impress your friends. The following is a massive graphic; beyond that, step by step instructions.

But, before I lose you, I wanted to share: in getting back into blogging, I'm also getting back into Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If you're interested, follow the links for conversation and behind-the-scenes goodness!

All of the photos that follow were taken by S, the most fantastic boyfriend a girl could ask for. Homie's never touched a DSLR before today - didn't he do a great job? 

You'll never believe how easy it is to make these. Perfect if you run out and need cupcake liners in a flash! Cheap too!

1) Gather your materials. You'll need parchment paper, scissors, and a glass/bottle/can that fits inside of a cupcake tin. I've heard a v-8 can works well, and maybe even a can of Red Bull. I used a champagne glass because I'm fancy. Actually, I used it because it was out because it's the 9th and I still haven't put away everything from my New Year's Eve Party. Whatever.

2) Unless you're REALLY bad at estimating, you can totally eyeball this. Just cut strips of parchment that are somewhere between 5"-7" wide. I think I went closer to 5". You'll get 3 liners per strip, so cut accordingly. For a dozen muffins, cut four strips.

3) Fold the parchment into thirds. Here's a handy gif if you're not sure how. Just fold and flatten.

4) Cut along the creases to create 3 equal-ish pieces. They'll be kinda square. It'll be fine. Repeat with the remaining strips of paper.

5) Ready your glass and papers.

6) Place one square over the top of your glass/can/container/what-have-you.

7) Press the paper firmly down and around the sides of whatever you're using as a mold. Just let it crease how it wants. You can be neater about it if you want, but I don't mind it being kind of irregular. It gives it charm. Plus, it's way faster.

8) Ta da! Use as you would any other liner - no need to spray with oil, unless, of course, your recipe calls for it. Most recently, I used these for Cinnamon Fig Muffins.