- Alton Brown just changed my boiled egg game by not boiling the eggs.
- Once I figure out what candlenuts are I’m going to try Saveur’s recipe for Indonesian curry, Gulai Ayam.
- Wal-Mart is going organic. I am highly skeptical of the impact of such a decision, but it might be a step forward.
- I’ve swapped my chili flakes out for Aleppo pepper. I prefer the spice’s floral aroma and delayed heat.
- I wear my Fitbit religiously, but is wearable tech already over?
- Just polished off some Chocolate Milk and Cookies out of Ample Hills Creamery‘s ridiculous new cookbook. Hands down the best ice cream recipe I’ve used.
Mom: So, what do you have planned for Easter?
Kirsten: What do you mean have planned for Easter? Why would I do something for Easter?
Mom: You know, to celebrate.
Kirsten: Uhhh, Mom, well…… You know, Mom, Brian isn’t religious and I don’t really….
Mom: But it’s Easter. You should do something special.
So that’s more or less the conversation I had with my mom earlier this week. To put things into context, Easter is my mom’s absolute favorite holiday. I’m not sure what in particular she loves about it – the colors, the celebration of spring and rebirth, the festive activities for little children, or maybe even the proximity to her birthday.* Whatever it is, it certainly compels her to celebrate, and the celebrations of Easter in our house were always something special, indeed. Egg hunts, feasts, chocolates, gifts… we did it all, and it all was beautifully and thoughtfully prepared by my mom down to the last detail.
I may have given up my religious persuasions, but our conversation nevertheless rekindled for me happy memories of Easters past. In the spirit of these memories I decided that maybe I ought to do something special to celebrate, after all.
These fluffy, honey-scented marshmallows are the product of that decision, and I have to tell you they are a very good addition to a celebration. I chose them with my mom in mind; she prefers light desserts, and I wanted to make something frivolous and pretty for her, something in which she could indulge a few bites without regret.
Of course, I also had plenty of influence over how these turned out. As I scanned the recipe for marshmallows I had relied on before, I found that I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase one of the particular ingredients called for. That light corn syrup… it just doesn’t fit in with the way I think about food. Perhaps if I could find corn syrup made from non-GMO corn I could come around, but even then… I still can’t find a way to think about syrup made from corn as a real food. Honey, it seems to me, is a reasonable substitute. And more than just providing a safer source of sweetener, honey imparts a lovely nougat flavor. Not that I’m about to get carried away with thinking my marshmallows are healthy – they’re still sugar – but if I’m going to take a lashing from the devil or his assistant, I’ll choose his assistant every time.
*Happy (early) Birthday, Mom. I love you so much.
Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows
Makes about 24 marshmallows
I think you might be surprised by how simple it is to make marshmallows at home, and how rewarding, too. Homemade marshmallows are one of those foods that barely resemble their store-bought counterparts. They’re fluffy, not springy, and delightfully sticky. Oh, and they have actual flavor, rather than tasting mostly like air.
If homemade marshmallows aren’t quite special enough for you, or if you (like some people I know) can’t call something dessert if it doesn’t contain chocolate, scroll down to find out how to enrobe these in dark chocolate. Coating them in chocolate is only one little extra step, and though I was reluctant to go there with these marshmallows (which I think are perfect on their own) I have to admit that it’s totally worth it.
4 packets gelatin (if I had more forethought, I would have used 4 tbsp of this)
1 cup water, divided
coconut oil or cooking spray, for greasing
1 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split & scraped
1 cup powdered sugar
Soak the gelatin: Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the gelatin overtop. Stir gently to evenly coat the gelatin. Allow to bloom for at least 5 minutes. (The gelatin will turn into a firm mass. Don’t worry, you didn’t ruin it, it’s supposed to look that way.) While the gelatin blooms, grease a baking dish. I used a 9×13″ dish, but would use a 8×8″ pan next time to produce taller marshmallows. Line with parchment paper then grease the parchment, as well.
Make the honey syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water with the honey and salt. Place over medium-high heat and boil for 8-12 minutes until the temperature registers 240°F on a candy thermometer.
Whip the marshmallows: Carefully pour the honey syrup over the gelatin, beating with electric beaters (or in a stand mixer) as you pour.* Beat the mixture on the slowest speed, and over the course of several minutes gradually increase the speed until the mixer is going as fast as it can. Continue to beat until the mixture is very stiff and forms shiny, heavy ribbons when you lift the beaters, another 8-12 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and seeds and beat until well combined.
Pour the marshmallows: Pour the marshmallows into the prepared pan, using a wet spatula to scrape and smooth. Place aside for at least 2 hours (or overnight) to set.
Cut the marshmallows: Sift powdered sugar over the pan of marshmallows. Invert the pan onto another sheet of parchment, remove the greased parchment from the top, and sift over the exposed side. Cut the marshmallows into squares and coat all exposed edges with powdered sugar (either with the sifter or by rolling them in a bowl of powdered sugar). Marshmallows should keep in the fridge for 4 days.
*Caramel burns are serious business, I know from experience. If you’re as clumsy as I am it might be wise to get a responsible friend to do the pouring for you while you beat the mixture.
Marshmallows Coated in Dark Chocolate
7 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1 recipe Very Fluffy Honey Marshmallows
Melt the chocolate: Place the chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30 second increments, stirring between. Heat until there are a few pieces of chocolate lingering in the dark pool of melted chocolate and allow these to melt on their own.
Coat the marshmallows: Dip marshmallows individually into the melted chocolate, using a spoon to help coat all sides. Remove coated marshmallows to a parchment lined baking tray. Refrigerate coated marshmallows for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Serve fresh from the fridge; the chocolate will melt if left out at room temperature for too long.
It is way too tempting to order in for dinner in New York City, particularly when the temperature outside is 12° and any of 200 or so nearby restaurants will bring food to you at the click of the button.
But now that Spring has arrived it’s time to muster up a little resilience against the lure of take-out containers and bicycle delivery men. In the name of saving a little more money to go towards our dream projects, Brian and I sat down a week ago and decided that our beloved takeout had to go. You see, even though we eat well, we still have a general budget of how much we spend on food each week; our weekly $30+ ramen/sushi/thai delivery indulgence ends up tacking an extra 20% onto that budget. Listen guys, if I learned anything from my job in finance, it’s that you don’t want drive up your expenses.
Well, delivery dinner may be so last week, but that doesn’t mean the food we had delivered has to go, as well. Recently I found myself craving some warm and spicy thai green curry, and so I sent myself into the kitchen to recreate this take-out favorite. As I was planning the dish, it occurred to me that I might be able to improve it a bit by giving the protein some respect and cooking it separately. For the rest of the dish, I played it fairly traditional, staying true to the flavors I craved – peppery ginger, fragrant lemongrass, creamy coconut milk, and tender Asian vegetables. What resulted was a lush bowl of thai curry, topped with a bit of succulent roast chicken that had a perfectly crispy skin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Thai Green Curry with Crispy Roast Chicken, Mushrooms, and Bok Choy
I loved this curry served on its own, almost as more of a soup. However, if you feel like you’re missing some starch, or if you just can’t imagine having curry without anything to sop up all the delicious liquid, go ahead and serve it over rice.
I noted in the ingredients that the fish sauce is optional… but saying so pains me. I made this dish twice, once forgetting the fish sauce and once including it, and I have to say that the fish sauce really brings the dish together. It’s like the anchovies in Caesar salad – you don’t know that they’re there, but it definitely doesn’t taste right without them. Having said that, if you’re the type that is iffy about the idea of anchovies in your salad dressing, then you can certainly leave the fish sauce out of your curry. You can find fish sauce (nam pla) in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores.
2 chicken thighs, skin-on and preferably bone-in
2 tbsp butter or ghee
sea salt and red chili flakes
1 14 oz can coconut milk
2 tbsp green curry paste
1 finger-sized piece of ginger, cut into 3 strips vertically
2 stalks lemongrass, split lengthwise and bashed with the blunt side of a heavy knife
2 tsp. fish sauce (optional)
1 cup chicken broth
2 large handfuls shiitake mushrooms, sliced (substitute cremini or button, if necessary)
2 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
small handful basil leaves, sliced into ribbons, to garnish (optional)
2 lime wedges, to garnish
Sear and roast the chicken: Preheat the oven to 375º and place a pan over high heat. Allow the pan to heat for several minutes until it’s blazing hot. Meanwhile, coat the chicken thighs with the butter or ghee and season the skin with salt and chili flakes. (The best way to do this is to allow one hand to get messy with the butter and use the other hand for seasoning.) Place the chicken thighs skin side down in the hot pan and season the upward facing side. Sear for two or three minutes until the skin gets crispy, then flip and cook for two more minutes on the opposite side. Remove the chicken to a baking dish and place in the oven to finish cooking, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the curry: While the chicken is cooking, place a saucepan over medium-high heat on the stove. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Allow to reduce by 1/3. After the coconut milk has concentrated a bit you can whisk in the curry paste. Add the ginger slices, bashed lemongrass stalks, fish sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes. Once the ginger and garlic have steeped and fully perfumed the curry base, fish them out with tongs.
Add the vegetables: Set the chicken aside to cool a bit after it has finished cooking in the oven. With the curry base over medium heat, add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for about three minutes, until they begin to get tender. Add the bok choy to the curry, cover, and allow to steam for another two or three minutes. The curry is ready when a fork will pierce the bok choy with little resistance.
Serve: Slice the chicken thighs, discarding bones. (Actually, don’t discard – toss them in a freezer bag for future broth-making!) Serve the curry in large bowls, over rice or on its own. Place the chicken meat over the curry, and garnish with basil and lime wedges.