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Jam-Tacular!

May 2, 2011

What do you get when you put two over-ambitious, artisinal food-bent twenty-somethings together in a kitchen all day? You get a lot of jam! And a revamped spice collection. And a very, very messy dining room table.

Last week my fabulous friend @jamsofthenest and I got together for another epic jam making day, complete with, of course, cocktails, to make the stirring a little less tedious. This time we tested tomato jam with a coriander, cardamon spice blend. Also on the agenda was marmalade because, well, the citrus just doesn’t seem to want to go away yet this season, and therefore it must be preserved in all its glorious bounty.

The spices…that was a side task. To kick off the day we visited a wholesale jar and bottle company in the Ghetto, aka the Los Angeles industrial district, aka I’m surprised my care wasn’t broken into in, aka if you ever need auto glass repair, I’ll give you the directions. Anyway, at the bottle/jar store, we fell in love with some small glass bottles and decided it was spice rack revamp time. Joy!

Along with our spice jars, we bought dozens of different sized jam jars and tested them in processing. Quite an amusing experience. NOTE: look up the proper processing method for your type of jars before canning…you know, so you don’t totally mess up like several jars and get tomato jam sludge all down the sides of your jars…not that this happened to us…I’m just saying…

So, here’s a little play by play of the day in pictures. We’re totally up for a major Jam-Tacular if you’re interested. Because, you know, you also have like 20 lbs. of navel oranges sitting around that you have no idea what to do with…

Oh, and that marmalade? Well, let’s just say trying to transform orange juice with a bit of zest in it into marmalade isn’t exactly the “correct” method of making marmalade…

More pics after the jump…

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Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones

April 27, 2011

Well, I’m on a bacon kick this week, aren’t I? First the Bacon Bloody Mary, now these delectable Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll make bacon candy. Ooh, or maybe bacon soup!

My attempt with these scones was to somehow recreate Bouchon Bakery’s incredible Bacon Cheddar Scone. Sadly, I’m not quite on the mark, yet. Their crunchy, dense, bacon-packed scones are like breakfast bacon candy. If I could magically transport myself to Napa Valley right now to the door of that bakery, I think I would be in heaven. Oh, and of course I would need a latte to go with it. Maybe a baguette too, because, you know, gotta take advantage while you’re there.

Then I’d slip across the street to Chandon winery and pay a visit to my darling friend Chloe. And we’d drink bubbles on their lovely outdoor patio. And I’ll fantasize about hosting a gorgeous affair on their vast property, like a real live adult, complete with thousands of white peonies and pink Champagne.

This fantasy brought to you by Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones.

Scones are really so easy to make. You should go make them. Like right now. Plus you can put anything in them.

Let’s fantasize some more….Cranberry Ginger Scones, Orange Cardamom Scones, Rosemary Parmesan Scones, Lavendar Scones, Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones

OK, I’m done. So take a look! And get the recipe after the jump.

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Bacon Bloody Mary

April 26, 2011

Oh no you didn’t! Oh, yes I did!

If you’ve ever been to Hash House in San Diego, you may have come across the Greatest Bloody Mary That Ever Lived: The Bacon Bloody Mary. There is no substitute. No breakfast beverage comes close to the wonder that is a bloody mary with bacon. I dare you to try.

Today, fond college memories came flooding back to me, inspiring this extremely intense pang of desire for a bloody mary. I remember driving down on Friday nights from USC to UC San Diego to visit my friend Masha. We’d (of course) drink like fish all night and then ease out of our hangovers with brunch at Hash House the next morning. Usually after waiting like 45 minutes to get a table. And the sun would pierce our eyeballs like the devil’s pitchfork waiting for that table. Our hungover brains were mush waiting for that table. I may or may not have lay down on a sidewalk waiting for that table. Anyway…oh what endured for those bloody marys!

We’d dive into the most un-apologetically gargantuan breakfast plates like pancakes or chicken and waffles and wash them down with bloody marys served in equally giant beer glasses. And they had bacon in the glasses! Giant pieces of crispy peppered bacon so large they stood up in the glass! And pickles. Yum…pickles.

Here’s my version of this fabulous cocktail, still available at their amazing breakfast house in San Diego. I highly recommend a visit sometime, hungover or not.

Oh, and you see those little white bits in the bottom of the glass? Those are actual pieces of bacon. You’re drooling. I get it. When you slurp this bad boy with a straw you get crunchy little pieces of bacon. Smoky. Fatty. Good.

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Carrot Soup with Sage and Yogurt

April 25, 2011

Today is one of those days where nothing seems to be going right. The groomer butchered by dog’s previously fabulous curly locks. There is a mountain of laundry haunting me from the bedroom. My hair is doing this weird flip out thing that looks like I intentionally tried to mimic Jennifer Aniston’s iconic Friends haircut. I have green food dye on my hands that won’t go away. Pout. Pout. Pout.

While thinking of what I was going to make for the blog today I told myself it better be bright and happy to chase these bitter blues away. It also needed to chase away the bulge care of the White Trash Cookies and Mayonnaise episodes of last week. I mean, I was headed to the beach this weekend! What on earth compelled me to bake such belly busters?! Ugh. Needless to say, my bikini was feeling a bit too teeny.

Anyway, after I write this, I’m going to go watch Real Housewives of Wherever and drown my sorrow in this yummy Carrot Soup with Sage and Yogurt. And I’ll pretend my dog isn’t giving me the evil eye over receiving the worst haircut ever. I might tear up a little if the Housewives go at it with pepper spray and then make up over Cosmotinis. Walnut and I will cuddle, and I’ll sip this soup, and I’ll try to pretend today is already over.

Recipe after the jump…

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White Trash Cookies

April 22, 2011

Don’t ask me what compels me to make some of my recipes. Sometimes it’s whatever is in the fridge. Sometimes it’s to try something challenging, or something I’ve never made before. Sometimes it’s just to entertain you, like these white trash cookies.

I know you read that title and your first thought was “what could that possibly mean?!” Cookies made with jerky and pickles? Maybe tater tots? Could they be chicken nuggets thrown in the blender with some butter and baked into a oozy chicken monstrosity? Well, that last one seems doubtful. I mean, the ratios would be off. Duh.

No, these White Trash Cookies are the epitome of tacky Americana. Classic chocolate chip cookies made with good ‘ol mayonnaise instead of butter or eggs and with some baseball style Blister peanuts thrown in for good measure. You’re drooling, and kind of disgusted with yourself. I get it, it’s all things wrong, bad and good rolled into one. I mean, salted peanuts in a cookie? Mayonnaise in a cookie?! How dare I?!

Oh, but I did. And tomorrow when I see a few friends, I will be bringing these cookies. And they will love them. And I will not tell them they are white trash cookies. I might serve them with a side of my homemade beef jerky. Perhaps some pickles for garnish…see if they get the joke. Or maybe they’ll just think they are darn good cookies and no one will be the wiser. That is, unless they read this post. And then the taunting shall begin.

For those of you that dare, recipe after the jump.

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Jam Session

April 21, 2011

Where the hell was I yesterday? Abandoning you, obviously. I’m sorry. My heart and mind were elsewhere. Consumed with jamming and puppy play time. I didn’t mean to ignore you, I swear.

It was a marathon canning session. 24 jars. 6 hours. 2 pounds of jalapenos. 8 pints of strawberries. 1 pound of tamarind in their lovely, crunchy pods. 3 adorable weck canning jars. Unknown pounds of sugar. 2 doodles (labradoodle, woodle; translation: Bertie (labrador, poodle mix) + Walnut (wheaten terrier, poodle mix).

I could barely stand when I got home. Though that’s possibly because I was weighed down with jars, a yelping puppy and a few too many shots of jam cocktails. Because that’s what brilliant ladies like me and my jam partner in crime @jamsofthenest decided to do with our overflow jars of jam. I think any self-respecting jam maker on hour 6 in the kitchen would agree: BEST USE of EXTRA JAM EVER.

We kicked off the day with some lovely fried eggs, toast, coffee and dog biscuits. Because one cannot live on jam alone! The dog biscuits, of course, went to the dogs. They relished their new found romance + open backyard to run around in + multiple treats from completely enamored owners.

Jam #1: Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. But, of course, we can’t go traditional. That would be boring. So we added red bell pepper for color, orange zest for flavor, and (just for kicks) a few of the smashed tamarind pods. Delightful.

Jam #2: Strawberry, Dill, Jalapeno Sauce/Jam. We’re calling it saucy because it’s blended a bit less chunky than traditional jam. Mind you, the dill and jalapeno just make it awesome. Like crazy delicious. And highly recommended with vodka.

Jam #3: Tamarind Jam. You’ve never heard of this. You barely know what tamarind is. Don’t worry, we’re all in the same boat. I also had never witnessed a pod in person until yesterday morning. Nor did I have any intention of ever making tamarind jam before yesterday in a blurry wander around Whole Foods. I mean, I don’t just wake up and think of these things. But we didn’t just use tamarind in this jam. Oh no! We used cinnamon, ginger, cloves, lemon juice and some secret weapons for this wonder. What does it taste like? Kind of like warm, spicy iced tea in a creamy, oozy spoon full of goodness. It is amazing with whiskey over ice. We invented it. You heard it here first kids.

So, if you’re in Hancock Park in the next few days, don’t lie and say “you’re in the neighborhood” and want to come by for a jam cocktail. Because you’re never in Hancock Park. No one is. Except for me. And Daniel. Sometimes Walnut (he, of course, has many other preoccupations). But yes, you can stop in for a jammy cocktail. And we’ll swoon over puppy love and hours spent over boiling pots of sugar, water and fruit. That’s what we’re jamming.

Olive Oil Mayonnaise

April 19, 2011

What to do with four extra egg yolks?* Lemon curd. Maybe a cake. Hmmm…mayonnaise. More like yummm…mayonnaise. I love mayo. I fondly remember childhood days with a mayo rich tuna sandwich, or sliced beets with mayo and lemon juice. Or maybe just on a piece of white potato bread with a squeeze of lemon. Obviously I had an impeccable palate as a child.

Today I did the grown up thing and made some mayo from scratch. And, very adult of me, I used healthy olive oil. And I used Julia Child’s recipe. Because you can’t argue with the best. Ever.

And, lucky me!, I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer so my arms aren’t falling off from all of that beating. But, man, is my Kitchenaid tired. He told me so. His name is Steve.

Anyhoo, fast forward 30 minutes, 3 egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups oil, some lemon juice, dijon mustard and a pinch of salt later and, picture me, standing over my kitchen counter, spooning ungodly amounts of fresh mayo into my gob on a piece of English muffin. Sexy, I know.

* Egg yolks to spare courtesy of Chocolate Flourless Walnut Cookies for yesterday’s Passover dinner.

Recipe after the jump.

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