#100DaysOfFoodBlogging, Thought Nuggets

Orange Extract Revolution

[This is post #010 towards #100DaysOfFoodBlogging, our goal to do 100 posts in 100 days as part of The 100 Day Project.]

Why does vanilla extract get all the attention? Seems like every single recipe calls for a teaspoon or so of this tired brown liquid. No disrespect to vanilla, but–wait. I take that back. Disrespect indeed. This King of Extracts has ruled for too long, and for what? An assumed flavor enhancement that we all just accept, even though if you taste the darn liquid straight up it burns like a bitter earthy fire in your mouth.

I know that when “science” comes into play its supposed to make food like cakes taste better, but have you ever forgotten to add vanilla and then truly missed its presence? Probably not. So, why are we stuck worshiping this nepotism-fueled pantry staple?

Well, turns out in 1875 it was actually part of the law set down Queen Victoria, which stated, “Every baked good shall thee include thy vanilla extractacus.”

Okay, that didn’t happen.

But this isn’t a historical blog and right now there’s no need to look at the past, because the future is here:  Orange Extract (or as her supporters are calling her, Orange-X).

Before we get into what Orange-X can help enhance, I encourage you to just taste it straight up (or with ice if you prefer). Not bad, right? I’m not going to be drinking it by the glassful, but it tastes like it should.

I have no allegiance to orange extract brands and nobody has paid me to endorse any, so any type will do. OR if you like the idea of bottles filled with orange rind and vodka sitting around your house for a few months you can follow these instructions from the just-making-noise blog and make it yourself. I do want to try making my own at some point, or I’ll gladly sample someone else’s homemade orange extract.

ORANGE EXTRACT IS BETTER THAN VANILLA EXTRACT

1. Orange French Toast / Pancakes – Many recipes call for vanilla extract, so just swap it out with your new BFF, Orange-X. I think the hint of orange is small change that helps breakfast feel new. Vanilla who?

2. Orange Maple Syrup – If you’re going to spice up French toast or pancakes, you can’t use REGULAR maple syrup. Boring. Add a splash of Orange-X to your favorite syrup. I’ve actually started to like this better than regular maple syrup because it helps cut the sweetness a bit with the citrus tang.

3. Orange Yogurt – You could buy orange yogurt, but what if you wake up one morning and you have a ridiculous craving for something orangey and yogurty? (This is based on a true story, by the way.) All you have in the refrigerator is Noosa honey yogurt, but you do have Orange-X (because it’s now a staple in your cupboard). A few splashes later you’ve just satisfied your craving. Here’s the kicker: Noosa doesn’t even make orange yogurt, so it would be impossible to buy this!

4. Orange Coffee – Even though I like my lattes sweet and creamy like dessert, I’m not a huge fan of flavored coffees. There’s always an overwhelmingly manufactured taste that steps on the coffee flavor. For the most part, I like my coffee to taste like coffee (albeit with copious amounts of milk and sugar), but occasionally it’s a real hoot to try something new and adding a few drops of Orange-X is a nice change. Breakfast often includes OJ and coffee, so why not sort-of-combine the two?

5. Orange Whipped Cream – I love the combination of chocolate and orange. I love the combination of chocolate cake and whipped cream. If only there were a way to combine those two statements into a an easy dessert that my whole mouf will enjoy… Most of the time when making fresh whipped cream, I toss that wretched vanilla extract in, so a quick substitution of Orange-X helps pop a bit of orange into an otherwise pedestrian meal. Just wait for your mother-in-law to be all like, “Is that…do I taste…ORANGE?”

You get the point.

Any other ideas on how we can bring down the Vanilla Extract Empire from our lives and make room for Orange-X?

Orange Extract revolution

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Thought Nuggets

10 Reasons Not to Live in the ‘Burbs if You Enjoy Good Food

Reason #1 Ratio of food trucks to chain restaurants

  1. Ratio of food trucks to chain restaurants
    Aside from an ice cream truck (which for some reason plays creepy Christmas music in the middle of summer), you won’t find any food trucks out in the suburbs. Instead, sustenance is provided in the troughs of chain restaurants, where you’ll be squeezed into a booth and forced to choose the least offensive offering from a plastic ranch-stained menu. Sure, there are a few decent chains, but the lack of a food truck scene removes nearly all of the potential culinary creativity. If you love dry chicken fingers and bland (yet over-salted) French fries, you’ll be in luck! But, if you’re craving a Coca-Cola braised pork bun with savory cabbage and preserved yellow mustard seeds, you better buy a plane ticket to San Francisco. 
    .
  2. Reason #2 - No Coffee Shop Within Walking Distance

  3. No coffee shop within walking distance
    Maybe it’s just me, but I have this weird fantasy about how enjoyable it must be to simply walk to a local coffee shop. Get a little exercise, enjoy the weather, fist-bump a few homeless people on the way… You know, the American dream. Unfortunately, I’m living in the other American dream. The one where they squeeze eleventy-billion identical townhouses next to each other, thus making it impossible for anything to be within walking distance. Having to physically get into a car and drive to a Starbucks makes the whole process feel more like refueling a work truck than connecting with my inner muse. And there’s a drive-thru, so why would I get out of my car and use my legs (which are nearly atrophied from lack of use anyway).
    .
  4. Reason #3 - Every Night is Kids Night

  5. Every night is Kids Night
    Kids are cool. They say funny things and are a great way for their parents to live out their own failed dreams. I get it. But, why does it feel like every night is Kids Night in the suburbs? Red Robin is a solid chain that gets a lot of take-out business from us. However, I always have to mentally prepare myself to battle the hundreds of small humans that will undoubtedly be crowding the entrance. On a Tuesday night the last thing I want to do is hurdle several Eddie Bauer strollers while dodging red balloons, before I get into a fist fight with a four-year old over who gets to high-five Mr. Robin. And that’s white sand beach peacefulness compared to Chick-fil-a…
    .
  6. Reason #4 - Lack of Hipsters

  7. Lack of hipsters
    Say what you will about hipsters, but clearly the weirdest, most creative food is created with a strong hipster influence. I mean, you can’t NOT find good food in Portland or the Williamsburg neighborhood of NYC. Maybe the county could introduce tax benefits to hipster families who move into the suburbs. Yes. A hipsterfication of the ‘burbs is long overdue. Lets replace strollers and red wine with handlebar mustaches and craft beer.
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  8. Reason #5 - Not a Decent Donut in Sight

  9. Not a decent donut in sight
    With donuts hopefully replacing cupcakes as the “it” dessert in many cities, I’ve been waiting patiently for a hip donut shop to open up nearby. Unfortunately, the suburbs are generally at least ten years behind all the major food trends (In fact, I’m still waiting for the cupcake trend to make its way out here…). For now, Dunkin Donuts has the monopoly over donut lovers around here with no competition in sight. On the plus side, the grocery store chain Safeway is offering their version of a cronut. Is it any good? Who knows, because we have nothing to compare it to and probably won’t until 2024.
    .
  10. Reason #6 - The Wholefoods Void

  11. The Whole Foods void
    I’ve spent hours wandering the aisles of Whole Foods. It’s a great place to spend a few hours and $500. In order to get to the nearest Whole Foods, we have to make sure the dog is fed, pack a lunch, fill the car with a full tank of gas, and plan our whole day around it like a trip on the Oregon Trail. Alternatively our nearest grocery store is Safeway. Blah. I have a love-hate relationship with Safeway. I love the fact that they have cronuts, but I hate everything else about the nightmare of a grocery store. The products cost twice as much as every other grocery store. Everything is cramped, so you can barely walk around without accidently grinding on Grandma. And the organization of the aisles is about as logical and efficient as the IRS tax code. It took me 45 minutes to buy a dozen eggs once. So, although the trip to Whole Foods sometimes feels like a trip out west, there are many times when I would’ve rather gotten dysentery than shop at Safeway.
    .
  12. Reason #7 - Froyo is Inescapable

  13. Froyo is inescapable
    Although the suburbs aren’t the only areas with an infestation of frozen yogurt shops, it certainly feels worse due to the lack of other dessert options. As much hyperbole as I try to include in here, there is no stretching of facts when I say that every single shopping center in proximity to our home contains one fro-yo joint. Sweet Frog, Orange Leaf, Zinga!, Pinkberry, Fartberry…We suburbanites apparently don’t care what the name of the place is as long as we can fill up a cup full of diabetes and pay by the pound. This speaks more to the fact that suburban entrepreneurs are more interested in capitalizing on a proven money-maker and have no interest in investing in a more risky, yet creative endeavor. I understand the risk aversion, but it would be great if at least one of these small business owners would take some of their yogurt profits and introduce something new to the area (like a homemade ice cream sandwich shop). Until then, the Orange Leaf employees better get the sample cups out, cause I want to try them ALL.
    .
  14. Reason #8 - Farmer-less Markets

  15. Farmer-less markets
    Do you envision a farmer’s market with overflowing greens, fresh fruit exploding from barrels, and ears of corn stacked taller than your head? Yeah, I’ve heard about those types of markets, but they’re not in the ‘burbs. Sure we do have a farmer or two, but the suburban markets are more a way for yuppies to try to make money selling mediocre BBQ or cupcakes (is that still even a trend?!).  Even more Ludacris is the fact that on more than one occasion I’ve seen produce that have the grocery store stickers still on them. Weird that an apple imported from Mexico is considered “local” to northern Virginia.
    .
  16. Reason #9 - Food Service Workers are Dead Inside

  17.  Food Service workers are dead inside
    Local family-owned restaurants are motivated to make you happy, because if you don’t eat at their restaurant and have a good time, they don’t eat, period. But, when the food scene is dominated by chain restaurants, the “trickle down effect” is that the food services workers generally don’t care enough to make the experience enjoyable. Your community college-enrolled server is much more interested in retweeting Kimye than refilling your iced tea. And when she does remember that refill, your glass will be filled not only with tea, but also entitlement and angst. And can you blame her? I certainly don’t care if Applebees hits its goals. But, don’t stiff the server on her tip. Over-tip so she can pay for her books next semester and eventually move out of the suburbs. Just be sure to try and not write on the check, “Take me with you!”
    .
  18. Reason #10 - Vegetarians Not Welcome

  19. Vegetarians not welcome
    Aside from a few veggie burgers and salads, vegetarians will most likely have to order from the “side dish” section of the menu. If you enjoy seeing blank looks of confusion, just ask your server if the soup du jour is vegetarian. (Luckily they’ll already be on their iPhone, so they can Google it.) Until the hipsters move into town (or someone opens up an Indian restaurant), enjoy your Meatless Monday with a double order of French fries and two pounds of froyo.

Yikes, that was more depressing than I intended, but that’s okay because there is one positive aspect that helps offset all of the above:

    • You can control your own kitchen
      Since going out to eat and finding good food is so difficult, it forces us to become more creative at home. Why would I order a pizza from Papa John’s when I can make a beautiful charcoal-grilled rosemary potato pizza at home? Yeah, it’s more work but that’s part of the fun and how you can create a lasting memory of something so simple. Do you remember every time you’ve ever eaten at McDonald’s? No, but I bet you’d remember a homemade pork banh mi burger with Sriracha-Maggi glaze, picked daikon,  and cool cucumbers. So, even though you can feel trapped in the ‘burbs sometimes, it can be overcome* by simply firing up the grill and inviting your friends and family over.

*That still doesn’t fix the donut problem, so somebody should get on that ASAP.

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Cooper's Corner, Recipes

Canine Sweet Potato Froyo

Sweet potato froyo

Remember the first time when two of your favorite foods were combined in a way that BLEW YOUR FREAKING MIND?

Bacon on a doughnut? Boom.
Fried egg on a burger? Boom.
Indian spiced pumpkin chicken enchiladas from Avatars in Sausalito, California. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM? (let me hear you say wayo)

Well, it’s only fair that my furry friend, Cooper, has that same experience. And yes, I realize that he’s a dog and probably has his mind blown every time I drop a potato chip on the floor, but let’s pretend for a second that his palate is sophisticated enough to appreciate the effort.

Sweet Potato Froyo

Essentially everything Cooper does is somehow tied to the hope that he will receive either a dried sweet potato or ice cream. If the freezer door is opened and a paper ice cream container hits the counter, he will wake from a solid REM sleep and sprint into the kitchen to stare at me until his bowl is filled with that sweet vanilla cream. And for the former, I never have to worry about him running away when he’s off-leash because a simple shout of “Sweet Potato” will bring him running away from even the coveted buffet of goose poop that is our backyard. (Unfortunately, if a burglar ever breaks into our house and he has one of those delicious treats, Cooper would likely help him carry out our television.)

sweet potato froyo

So, with these two powers combined, I give you: Sweet Potato Froyo. Not super exciting, I know… But, it’s easy, cheaper than those over-priced “dog” ice cream cups, and your pup won’t know that it’s technically not ice cream.

sweet potato froyo

I saw this recipe for Frozen Yogurt Dog Treats on the Two Barking Dogs blog and realized that making “ice cream” for dogs is as easy as freezing Greek yogurt.

You can taste it yourself if you want, but like the Peanut Butter PUPcakes, it doesn’t really taste all that great to us humans. Luckily your dog won’t care and he or she will love you forever into eternity.

Sweet Potato Froyo

If you’re wondering whether or not Cooper actually ate from the plate above, the answer is “no.” I did try, but he just couldn’t wrap his head around this weird “flat bowl” contraption and just walked away. Upon placing the froyo in a proper bowl, he devoured it so fast that he didn’t have time to realize that it wasn’t really ice cream.

CANINE SWEET POTATO FROYO

Makes 12 cupcake-sized treats

  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 15 oz can Sweet Potato Purée
  • 2 cups Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your choice. I prefer glass for no particular reason at all.
  2. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, fill each to the top with the froyo mixture, freeze, and enjoy.
  3. Once fully frozen (about 3 hours), remove the froyo filled liners from the pan with a little warm water. Seal in a ziplock bag in your freezer for easy storage and quick access.*

*So here’s the thing about paper cupcake liners and frozen yogurt, they stick together. But, no worries. Just run the liners under warm water and they peel right off. Even if they didn’t, let’s be honest, your dog would eat them anyway.

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Recipes

Coffee-Infused Doughnut French Toast

#cooperthelabradoodle doughnuts

It was 6:30 A.M. on a Saturday when they started calling me.

The beckoning cries echoed from our kitchen, up the stairs and into our bedroom. Although I was sound asleep minutes ago, the haunting calls forced enough adrenaline into my veins to ensure that falling back asleep wouldn’t be an option.

The “they” in this situation was a few remaining Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Stale and past their peak by a few days, but far from moldy. They knew I had a choice to make on this Saturday morning – a choice that could potentially alter the course of breakfast for the weekend.

I could simply throw out the glazed rings of stale dough…OR…I could REVIVE them into one of the most delectable breakfast items known to man: Doughnut French Toast.

Before I had time to even consider my options, the decision was already made. Like a waking dream I looked down and saw that my mise en place was ready to go: Doughnuts, eggs, milk, butter, coffee, fresh oranges, and a hot griddle. This was it. I had a job to do. Clear eyes, empty stomach, can’t lose.

doughnut french toast

I covet this breakfast because the texture reminds me of crème brûlée. The outer doughnut glaze forms a sweet caramelized crust, which hides a gooey custard-ish doughnut flesh.

This isn’t the first time I’ve made French toast out of doughnuts, but it is the first time I’ve tried to elevate it a bit. I wanted to incorporate coffee flavor, but I don’t typically keep cold coffee on hand for serious emergencies like this. And adding hot coffee to the egg-milk mixture was sure to turn out poorly. I decided to blend whole coffee beans and milk to see if I could at least force some coffee flavor into the milk in a similar way that one might make homemade almond milk.

My original idea was to use my Aerobie Aeropress espresso maker to filter out the coffee grinds. Yes, that was the plan

I love my Aeropress, but it turns out that milk is too thick to easily go through the paper filter. After almost breaking my beloved bong-shaped coffee maker and pulling a muscle, I ended up just using a standard strainer to filter out most of the coffee grinds. Sure some of the grinds broke through, but who doesn’t like a little texture? Yes, texture became the new plan.

frying doughnut french toast

Since the doughnuts come pre-sweetened with glaze, no additional syrup is necessary (unless you’re Leslie Knope). But there is one more thing I like to add: A squeeze of fresh orange juice.

So freaking simple. Does the orange really add that much? (Spoiler alert: Yes, it does.)

This is a sweet, rich dish. Not only does the orange juice complete a comforting “breakfast trifecta” of doughnuts, coffee, and orange juice, but it actually brings out the taste of coffee. Cool, huh? Oh, it also adds some much needed acid to the dish (I’ve always wanted to say that).

Despite the struggles with infusing milk with coffee, I was really happy with this dish. Which is good, because if I’m going to wake up at 6:30 A.M. on a Saturday, I damn well better be making something delicious.

doughnut french toast

 Coffee-Infused Doughnut French Toast

  • 6 Stale Glazed Doughnuts (Krispy Kreme works great)
  • 1 Tablespoon Coffee Beans
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Orange
  • 2 Extra Large Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • Confectioner’s sugar (for garnish)
  1. Blend milk and coffee beans in a blender until the beans are thoroughly ground and the milk has a light brown color from the beans. Use a separate cup to strain the coffee-milk twice. Most of the grounds shall be captured, but you do want a few to escape.
  2. In a glass pan or shallow casserole dish, whisk the eggs until the yolk and whites have become one.
  3. Stir the milk into the pan with the eggs.
  4. Slice doughnuts in half, lengthwise and dip in the batter pan before frying in Step 5. You don’t need to let them sit for very long, as the un-glazed side will soak up the batter fairly quickly. (You can also use whole doughnuts, but you’ll need to let them sit a little longer to make sure it soaks up enough batter.)
  5. Heat a griddle pan to medium heat (or around 300 degrees). Melt the butter on the pan, then fry up your doughnuts French toast style. It shouldn’t take more than 1-2 minutes per side. Keep an eye on them, as the glaze side will caramelize quickly and burn if you’re not careful. You want the sugar to brown and be a little bit crunchy, but not burnt.
  6. Slice the orange into wedges, which can be used to squeeze juice onto the doughnut French toast. Since there is inherent sweetness from the glaze, no syrup necessary!
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Beyond the Food, Series

DC Donut Crawl

dc donut crawl

When:  Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 10:00 A.M.
Where:  Mount Vernon Square in Washington, DC
Registration:  Click here to register online.
More Info:  www.dcdonutcrawl.com

“I don’t like doughnuts” – Said by no one I would ever want to hang out with.

“I love doughnuts so much that I’m going to create an event in which attendees ride bikes to various doughnut shops.” – Said by a brilliant man who deserves a handshake, hug, and a bouquet of doughnuts.

That man is Erik Luchauer and in 2013 he had a dream. A simple dream that involved stuffing his face with doughnuts and riding his bike. Turns out he’s not the only person who’s dreamed of spokes and fried dough, because 250 hungry cyclists joined him last November to take an eight-mile bike ride to hit up four DC doughnut shops. This year’s crawl is set for June 7th, so grease your bike chains up and empty your stomachs.

In addition to a four-mile bike ride and three doughnut shops, this year a portion of the proceeds from the crawl will benefit Food For Life, a project of Care Company. Food For Life uses food to educate and train low income young adults in Washington, DC. Sure if you teach a man how to fish he’ll feed himself for a lifetime, but if you teach him how to cook that fish, it will taste a hell of a lot better and maybe he’ll be the next DC restaurateur (watch out, Mike Isabella). Some of the program’s previous graduates are already working in DC restaurants, contributing to the area’s food culture.

Erik handled the project solo last year as it evolved from a word-of-mouth crawl with a few friends, to an official event with its own logo, website, and online registration. The whole thing came together so fast, that before Erik even realized it, he was in charge of a full-fledged doughnut crawl! This year, to help ease the burden, he’s enlisted the help of  Will Fischer (who planned a similar event in St. Louis called the Tour D’Onut) and BicycleSPACE, a local bike shop who’s agreed to sponsor the event.

This year’s stops include three delicious DC doughnut shops:

GBD doughnuts chicken
Photo Courtesy of Erik Kallevig

1.  Golden Brown Delicious (GBD)  – Pastry Chef, Tiffany MacIsaac whips up a great balance of traditional doughnuts (like the classic Vanilla Glazed) as well as new twists including Cranberry Fritter, Samoa, and Passion Fruit. They also serve fried chicken for lunch and dinner that is…well…golden, brown, and delicious.

astro doughnuts
Photo Courtesy of BicycleSPACE

2.  Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken – Having been ranked by the Washington Post as being the best doughnut in DC, the Crème Brûlée doughnut at Astro is worth the four-mile bike ride alone. I can say from personal experience that this doughnut will change your life (goodbye, Dunkin’ Donuts). But don’t make plans for lunch.

district doughnut
Photo Courtesy of District Doughnut

3.  District Doughnut – The crawl ends with a reception hosted by District Doughnut where crawlers can enjoy music, doughnut-themed games, food vendors, and plenty of those magical fried rings of deliciousness. As one of the newer entrants into the DC doughnut scene, Owner and Executive Pastry Chef, Christine Schaefer has created a formidable doughnut menu including Cannoli, Orange Chocolate, and (the one that I most want to try) BROWN BUTTER.

dc donut crawl cyclist
Photo Courtesy of BicycleSPACE

I had an engaging conversation with Erik about the DC Donut Crawl, doughnuts, and food in general. His fondest memory of the circular treats was a Maple Bar doughnut from Daylight Donuts in Searcy, Arkansas. He remembered it being a well-done, perfectly simple maple doughnut which helped him get through many early-morning classes in college. As we reminisced about doughnuts past and our love of the many brilliant food options in Vienna, VA, I realized something…

Erik Luchauer is just an ordinary guy with a passion for doughnuts.

It’s inspiring to see someone take the initiative to organize an event like this, which not only creates a fun experience for the attendees and helps support a local charity, but also promotes three brilliant doughnut-makers. The most effort I’ve ever put into my love of those golden rings was stuffing a dozen from Stan’s Doughnuts in LA into my checked bag to transport back home (shockingly none were confiscated by TSA agents for “national security”). So I’m clearly not putting in as much effort as Erik.

He was very appreciative of any and all supporters and he said that even one single retweet on Twitter was helpful. That’s a fantastic attitude to have and it helps boil down why we (foodies, bloggers, tweeters, etc.) do anything: We’re just looking for someone else to share an experience with. Doesn’t matter if it’s two friends or two hundred strangers. For me, just chatting with Erik for an hour was worth all of the time and effort I put into this blog, tweeting, and “testing” recipes.

dc donut crawl helmet
Photo Courtesy of BicycleSPACE

So there’s bike riding, doughnuts, a ton cool people, AND you get to help a great cause. I can’t see any downsides to this event, so hurry up and register right now. Don’t have a bike? No excuse, because Capitol BikeShare is offering 50 free 1-day memberships to crawlers.

More information can be found at dcdonutcrawl.com and definitely follow @DCDonutCrawl on Twitter for updates and random doughnut-inspired tweets.

glorious doughnuts
Photo Courtesy of District Doughnut

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Recipes

Fruity Pebble Eggs = Happy Easter to my Mouf

Fruity Pebble Eggs

Last year, we made Rice Krispies Treat Eggs for Easter, but Tina wanted to add some color for 2014. Enter:  Fruity Pebbles.

I’ve been known to eat a lot of Rice Krispies Treats. Like a Costco-sized box within a week.

And when I can’t get to Costco, I channel my inner Walter White. Missing for days in the dessert, cooped up in an RV with fumes of butter, marshmallows and Rice Krispies floating into the hot sun. So, I was a little skeptical at introducing Fruity Pebbles to the melted marshmallow party, but…

I think I like them better than the original. But mostly because it’s Easter.

Fruity Pebble BLOB!

Exhibit A

The preferred method for consuming is actually not in egg form at all. See Exhibit A. It tastes best right out of the pan in a warm, sticky, colorful blob of deliciousness. Wash it down with an ice cold glass of milk and you got yourself a respectable snack.

Even though Fruity Pebble Eggs have made it to the IT LIST of Easter snacks, there will forever be a place in my stomach for the original Rice Krispies Treat Eggs (see Exhibit B).

Rice Krispies Treat Eggs

Exhibit B

Tina didn’t follow a recipe, because she hates being told what to do, but if you would like some guidelines on how to make them, check out “Cereal Treat Easter Eggs” from In Katerin’s Kitchen.

Some Technical Notes:

  • The eggs were formed by hand because plastic eggs were just too small to use as molds.
  • We ended up wrapping each egg in plastic wrap before placing in a basket with paper grass and pretty Easter stuff.
  • If you’re serving on a plate, you can forego the wrapping, but they’re pretty sticky so it’s nearly impossible to put bare eggs on paper (or plastic) grass.
  • It’s helpful to have a dog eat any rogue pebbles or krispies that fall on to the floor so you don’t have to vacuum later.

Happy Easter!

Main Eggs

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Recipes

My Hidden Talent: Deviled Eggs

eggcover

I thought long and hard about what the first post should be – something possibly irrelevant in the bigger picture of this blog – but in the back of my mind I wanted it to mean something. At first I was holding out for a “crazy” idea of a post that would go viral and end up being referenced by Padma Lakshmi on an episode of Top Chef. Then, I figured that it could pull at some heart strings with a tear-jerking post about life, death, food, love, and labradoodle puppies. However, I was standing at a urinal and it became so clear…so simple: Deviled Eggs.

final_eggfinished

Possibly an odd choice to an outsider, and in no way an attempt to fill an internet void of deviled egg recipes (’cause there ain’t no void), but it’s perfectly fitting for who I am and what I want this blog to be about.

Somewhere in the twelve years that I’ve worked at my current job, I have earned the respect and envy of my co-workers for one thing: My Deviled Eggs. Never have I seen excitement over such a simple dish. Nor have I seen the harsh disappointment at the absence of it. My boss has even gone as far as hoarding eggs for an afternoon snack…There’s an unspoken rule in my office, and that’s whenever we have a pot luck lunch, I am required to bring deviled eggs. For our Christmas party this past year, I tried to mix it up by bringing tortillas and Awesome Sauce (it was partially a Korean taco party, hence the tortillas…and I’ll get to the Awesome Sauce in another post). Anyway, I did not provide the eggs as assumed by everyone and sadness hit the office in a way that made it seem like I ruined Christmas.

 “It’s not a Christmas party without your deviled eggs, ” said one crestfallen coworker. Cue the sad Charlie Brown music.

Look, I obviously like my own deviled eggs, but I don’t necessarily think there’s anything extraordinary about them. Maybe it’s the simplicity. Maybe nobody else ever learned how to make them. Or maybe I’ve just worked there so long and have consistently brought the eggs into work, that it’s created an odd psychological dependence on them (Deviled Egg Dependence or D.E.D. is not currently recognized by the American Medical Association).

Either way, I’m the Egg Man at work, so I might as well fully embrace it.

But, wait… How the heck did I even become the Egg Man? Again, after over a decade my memory is a bit fuzzy. I don’t remember the first time I brought the eggs into work. And if I really give it some thought, I CAN’T REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I EVER MADE THEM!

I clearly did not invent these magical delights, so I’m assuming that it’s a recipe that I picked up from either my mom or my grandmother. But it’s still an odd feeling not being able to remember when or where I learned it. I supposed it could be a power hidden in my DNA, like Wolverine. But Egg Man would make a pretty sad comic book hero and definitely wouldn’t warrant a movie trilogy.

So, I wasn’t blessed with any athletic or intellectual talents, but I was given this minor food gift.

You know, as I think about it even more…

Deviled Eggs have to be one of the first dishes I ever made without using a recipe and one in which I relied solely on taste to season and add ingredients. So in the most simplistic terms, when I make deviled eggs…I am about as close to being a chef as I’ll ever be.

RECIPE: GET IN MY MOUF DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients:

  • 1 Dozen Extra Large Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise – It has to be Hellmann’s brand, no deviation allowed (trust me, I’ve tried and it makes a huge difference).
  • 1 Tablespoon Dill Pickle Relish – DO NOT USE SWEET RELISH. There are few things more disappointing to me than biting into a deviled egg, only to find out that it’s SWEET. Gross. Seriously, if you like sweet eggs stop here, because this is not dessert.
  • 1 Tablespoon Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Pepper

Directions:

1.  Make Hard-Boiled Eggs. Simple, right? Well… I have a very specific method that I learned from watching Tyler Florence in the early days of Food Network: Set the eggs in a large pot and fill with warm water from the tap, then place on a stove to boil. Once the water starts to come to rapid boil, set your timer for 10 minutes. No less, no more. I’ve found that ten minutes is the perfect amount of time to produce perfectly-cooked, bright yellow yolks. Too long and they start to turn an ugly green color, too short and they won’t cook through. There are a ton of methods for peeling hard boiled eggs and every grandmother out there has a secret that she swears by (“Honey, place two nickles in the water with the eggs and the shells will fall right off!”) I prefer to drop the eggs in an ice bath for about four minutes to cool them down. Then, I peel them under lukewarm running water.

2.  Slice the eggs in half, lengthwise and place the yolks in a separate bowl. For aesthetics, I like to cut them with this crimped cutter thing (to which I know not the correct name). Adds a nice ridged cut.

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3.  Mash the yolks up with a  spoon until you have a fine powder, or you can no longer feel your arm. I like a smooth, well-blended filling without any “pockets” of dry yolk. Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, and pickle relish until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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4.  Now you have two options for filling the eggs. You can get all Martha Stewart and use a pastry bag/piping tip, or you can keep it easy and fill it with a mini ice cream scoop. I use the former when bringing eggs to parties and work functions, while the latter is the quick method for when I’m having a casual BBQ at home.

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5.  Garnish with something pretty like a fresh dill sprig or dust the tops with paprika and you’re all set!

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 Alternate Toppings and Fillings:

  • Sriracha – Duh, right?
  • Curry – A nice twist that I was exposed to at Wayfare Tavern.
  • Cayenne – I prefer a nice kick, so I normally replace the paprika with cayenne.
  • Bacon – Again, duh.
  • Pickled Watermelon Rind – If you can find it, this adds a nice crunch and new dimension. OR you could make it yourself.

 

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