It’s not Fifty Shades of Grey…

Ganache is one of my favorite things to have on hand.  It is so simple to make and has so many uses.  It’s the easiest cupcake icing, just dip the top of a cupcake in the ganache, done.   Heated, the ganache is delicious over ice-cream.  Let the ganache cool to a spreadable consistency to use like a more traditional frosting.  Or, let the the whole mixture cool in the fridge until it solidifies for a base for truffles.  Spoon them out into semi-spherical shapes and roll in cocoa, nuts, coconut, the options are endless.  Or,  skip the formalities of rolling them into balls and then again in additional toppings.  You could keep the whole jar for yourself.  This is my dirty secret.  No worse than “other people” I know that read pornographic trilogies.  (Catherine)

So you know how sometimes you make dinner and you accidentally make too much broccoli and so the next day you eat the broccoli for lunch?  Sometimes, when I’m making a cake and I make a ganache frosting, I might accidentally double the recipe.  The leftover ganache then goes into the fridge in a container like this:

It’s an old container and I just haven’t had the time to take that old label off.  It sits in the fridge until I have another need for ganache because it keeps for a long time.  I think it would keep for a long time but honestly, I haven’t had a jar in the fridge longer than a week so I can’t certify a shelf life longer than that.  I like to wait until the house is quiet and the container and I can be alone for just a moment, just a spoonful (or two).   I’m not opposed to sharing the jar of ganache accidentally labeled “Bacon Grease”.  It’s just that no one in the house has expressed interest in the contents of that jar.  Stop judging me, I know it’s shameful but it is no worse than Fifty Shades of Grey.           -Andra

Vietnamese Chicken and Mint Salad

This salad is a Nigella Lawson recipe which I’ve tweaked a little.  I’m a fan of Nigella, even though she can do things like ham baked in Coca-Cola.  Not sure if the last scene in the Nigella Bites series where she goes to the refrigerator at night and stands in the open door wolfing down leftovers was her idea or the producers, but I think it’s really validated the act for me.  Except I’m never wearing full makeup and silky pajamas when I do it.  Maybe I need better pajamas.

I always double this dressing because it’s so good and it keeps for a few days.  My only changes to the dressing last night were to use half the sugar, add lime zest and increase the lime ratio.  I used ground chicken (because it’s what I had) and put it all on a bed of napa cabbage.

– Catherine

On Repeat

Our Swiss Chard situation got a little out of control this week (that’s it in the upper back right).  While we’re aware that Swiss Chard could be used in many other, delicious ways, there is just nothing like our stand-by, Polenta, Swiss Chard and Olive Oil Fried Eggs.  Yes, we did just eat this last week.  It’s that good.

The liquid you see pooled around the edge of the polenta is from the Swiss Chard.  I plated this a little sloppily, just grabbing the chard with tongs and throwing it on a bed of polenta without taking the time to squeeze out the excess water after sautéing it with olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of garlic.  I also took pictures a little hastily, after we started eating.  It’s that good.

You should make this before I tell you I’ve made it yet again.  Probably next week.  It’s that good.

– Catherine

Tabouli

Tabouli is one of those meals I love and feel complete nostalgia about.  Our mother and grandmother made it often, and there was always tabouli in the refrigerator when I came home from college.  There’s nothing better after eating junk food all semester.  It’s not just healthy and delicious, but I swear it can make failing Statistics seem unimportant.

Some recipes for tabouli use cinnamon, sumac, cumin, or a combination of them.  I’ve used the following recipe for years, and think the cumin is key.  My grandmother always added canned chopped black olives.  I know that using the good, expensive Kalamata olives would be more authentic, but the canned are what I grew up eating and therefore love.  And, if I didn’t use them, what would my daughter put on the tips of her fingers while I’m making dinner?

I hope my girls grow up loving tabouli as much as I did.  And I hope that I can share the recipe with them when they’re old enough.  Or make if for them when they come home from college.  Over a bowl of tabouli and lettuce, I’ll tell them what I wish our parents had told me:  that there is a 90% chance (give or take a standard deviation) that passing or failing Statistics will never matter.

– Catherine

Tabouli

1 cup bulgar wheat

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped mint

1 pint cherry tomatoes, diced

1 cup black olives, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cumin seed

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Soak bulgar wheat in 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup lemon juice for at least an hour.  Fluff with a fork.

Add remaining ingredients and toss with more salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice to taste.  Serve in romaine leaves with a vodka tonic, as pictured.

Hostess CupCakes: Never Forget

Which came first, Motherʼs day or birthdays?  Because you canʼt have a birthday without a mother and you canʼt have Motherʼs day without a child.  It’s really an existential question, no?  Celebrating the two together seems prophetic when you have a son turning six and a mother who lives around the corner.  I donʼt mean prophetic in the “what a glorious gift to receive on motherʼs day” kind of way.  I mean it in more of a “killing two birds with one stone” kind of way.  Either way, the day ended with cake as all days, single-celebratory or multiple-celebratory, should.  I left the choice of cake flavors up to the six-year-old because I knew he would choose correctly:  chocolate on chocolate.  Someone had to be the adult so I decided to add a layer of marshmallow between the two layers of chocolate cake.  When it came together I called everyone in see the finished product and everyone BUT the six year old said, “It looks just like a Hostess CupCake!”  My six year old said, “Whatʼs a Hostess CupCake?”
Now I know what true motherʼs guilt feels like.  Did we force Hostess into bankruptcy?  Will my grandchildren never know a Twinkie?  I feel some responsibility to not stand by and watch an era disappear like dinosaurs and rotary-dial phones.  I, for one, will do my part to make sure that my children will be able to pass down the traditions of their past by keeping Hostess CupCakes around, whether from the glorious cellophane wrapper or my own kitchen.
The cake was a buttermilk chocolate cake with a seven-minute frosting layer between the layers of cake and then covered with a layer of chocolate ganache.  We have a lot more to say about ganache, but we just met, remember?
Any Seven-Minute Frosting recipe
Ganache
Equal parts bittersweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream.  Heat the cream, add chopped chocolate and stir until mixture reaches desired consistency.
Enjoy, nostalgically.
-Andra & Catherine
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