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My mother and I went out for dim sum last week, probably one of our very favorite things to do. We both are huge dumpling fans and while ordering off a menu is just fine, there’s something so much more fun about dim sum places that wheel the carts around, allowing you to pick and choose from what cruises by. In typical form, we ended up with far too many little plates and steamer baskets on the table and loved every minute of it. As the carts made their rounds, the one typically filled with the more dessert-y options stopped at our table. I don’t particularly enjoy the sweet options but the woman maneuvering this cart was pretty adamant that we should get the coconut buns, puffy hot dog shaped rolls filled with coconut. I was indifferent but damn she was persistent. I took the plate mainly to make her go away. But she was right. Warm, soft, tender and filled with a sweet coconut filling, these things were delicious. Dang it.

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I come from a family of great eaters. We cook – and eat – up a storm over the holidays but I have a cousin who typically doesn’t like what we serve. He’s not one for oysters or clams or herring so we usually buy some sort of frozen appetizer to get him through the first course of Christmas dinner. This year we found some fancy pigs in a blanket things at the grocery store and threw them in the cart. Everyone likes a pig in a blanket, right? Turns out, we were very right. My sister saw the box and wanted one. I’m pretty sure my dad sneaked one off the baking sheet before I had a chance to plate them. Everyone wanted one. Completely understandable – what’s not to like about mini hot dogs wrapped in pastry and baked until hot and crispy?

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Winter always slaps me in the face with a wet glove. Work is typically slow to pick up as I wait for clients to return from holiday travel and get back up to speed. I cooked so much last month that I draw a complete blank when coming up with ideas for January. I got nothing. So I turn to sometimes silly little things to generate ideas, like made up food holidays. There’s always something there to work with. Facebook cooking groups are another. Food in Jars has a monthly challenge I decided to do, though I have enough jars of jams, chutneys and pickles stocked up to last a lifetime. Eh, what the hell. The January challenge was citrus and I had a big bowl of fruit that needed to be used. Recipes with purpose I guess and I do love a good chunky marmalade.

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As I previously mentioned, made up food holidays have been giving me life this month. There are so many that it makes you wonder how these things happen. If you want to create holiday, regardless of the topic, it turns out it’s pretty easy (as I learned watching the latest episode of the questionable reality show Vanderpump Rules). Apparently anyone can do it. Go figure. So someone somewhere wanted today to be National Peanut Brittle Day though I’m not sure who that might be. Peanut farmers? The confectionary industry? The Corn Syrup Board? I’ve no idea but any excuse to make peanut brittle is fine by me.

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So I’m really into these made up food holidays this year. They crack me up. We’ve had National Tempura Day, Hot & Spicy Food Day, for some reason there’s a Strawberry Ice Cream Day (in January?), and maybe you celebrated Popcorn Day and Cheese Lovers Day over the weekend. The month is just chockablock full of reasons to eat. Not to be outdone, today is … get this … National Blondie Day. Yep, a WHOLE DAY dedicated to a non-chocolate brownie. Hilarious! While I do love a blondie, I have to think a lot of people are disappointed when they receive a chocolate-less brownie. Regardless, I’m going to forge ahead on this one with Cinnamon Toast Blondies.

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I love the idea of a cookbook cooking club, where several friends pick a book and everyone makes a recipe for a group potluck. I would love to be a part of one. The challenge is, my friends who cook actually do cook for a living and have no free evenings or even an interest in doing this and my friends who have the time and free evenings, don’t really cook and also have no interest in doing this. They’d rather I cook and they come over to eat, which we do frequently anyway. It’s a cookbook club of one cook and a bunch of eaters. Not quite what I had in mind. About a year ago I discovered cookbook clubs on Facebook which has filled this void in a weird way. Sort of. I’m a part of the Facebook Saveur Cookbook Club and Tasting Table Cookbook Club. Each month the moderators pick one or two cookbooks and members post their results. I’ve long been lurking from afar but have yet to actually participate. Until now. When the Saveur group posted their January selection – The Dooky Chase Cookbook – I knew it was time to show my hand.

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I’ve been reading up on “official food holidays”, days dedicated to a particular foodstuff put together by an interested trade organization or a public relations firm. For some reason, January is particularly heavy with these made up “holidays”, which is likely why I turn to them this month. They’ll full of kooky ideas. Last week I made tempura shrimp for “National Tempura Day”, because that’s a thing. Today is “Hot & Spicy Food Day”, because apparently that is also a thing. It also plays quite nicely into a new obsession of mine: Chili Crisp.

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