Au Peche Mignon – a little sin …

The best name for a French pastry shop I have ever heard. This is the one thing that makes going to Tallahassee, or through Tallahassee on the way to Orlando for work, or through Tallahassee on the way to Jacksonville tolerable. Thankfully we do not have to make the long (boring) drive to Jax on I-10 anymore. Just Pine trees – sigh.

This shop opened up the year we moved to Tallahassee and I am not entirely sure how I found it, might be because it near a great sushi restaurant – Kitcho, but Au Peche Mignon quickly became a favorite of mine. I could not afford it as a student very often, but it was a total splurge for me. Even one pain au chocolate was worth it – what a total pleasure.

D&D_2126This time I am ordering ahead of time to make sure I get the things that I want. As mentioned many (many) times, I am not a huge fan of chocolates, but Au Peche Mignon makes a bit of a liar of me – it is always the Noisette – a whole caramelized hazelnut (I want to know how to do that) covered in gianduja (which is odd because I do not like nutella), encased in dark chocolate. This is just the most amazing chocolate for someone who really does not care for chocolate in the grand scheme of things. I would like to just intern there and learn how to do things – that would make me really happy. Unfortunately these chocolates are a Christmas treat that I will not get in September. Sigh.

So here is the rest of the order for our way home from Orlando through Tallahassee.*

2 Croissants
4 Pain au chocolates
8 pieces of chocolate – it is so worth the $15.00
1 key lime tart – my first time with this.

I am going to spend way too much money, but I only do it twice a year at best. You have to eat the pastries fast, but the chocolates can last in the fridge for quite some time. Yep, spent $40, but it made me stupidly happy.

*Hopkins’ Eatery is another Tallahassee favorite – some of the best sandwiches ever – see: The Spin.

I have a weakness for candy …

… but not chocolate. Just cheap suggary candy that I have loved since I was a kid of 10 or so. I have heard there are two types of sweet thing you can favor. One is chocolate which happens when you are older, or if you are like me, you keep that sugar tooth – the one that never grows up. So, if you are like me, you can give chocolate, the big whatever, but you still want all that sugary candy you grew up with and in my case that is amazingly true. And sad at the same time. Very sad.

The things I love in the candy department are truly weird. Let us just start with Swedish Fish – which are not Swedish or Fish, but when I was young I was very allergic to seafood my father said “I just brought you some fish” – ha ha I thought – and then there were Swedish Fish from a department store and I was happier than you can imagine. Every time I eat a Swedish Fish or two it makes me think of my father. Especially now that the come in more “flavors” than red. Not sure what that is flavor that is supposed to be, but i kind of like the lemon and the lime ones the best.

I also love sweet tarts, jelly beans, licorice (black only – the red kind is, so, not licorice), lemon drops, life savers (if they are the flavors I like), Juju Bees (don’t think I am spelling that correctly), Ju Ju Fruit – yes, a very immature palette.

D&D_2099But one of my favorite candies is Zotz – but only the grape ones. Oh, lord this is such a long story, but since it is amazing late, I will save it for a day or two later.

But I do have a grape Zot* now and it is just pretty much amazing.

Just realized I am writing this while Elvis Costello is singing “So Like Candy.” Irony much from Mighty Like the Rose (1991.)

* Do not have the singular and/or the plural of this candy figured out at all. Maybe I am over thinking once again.

Creamy Pesto ….

I know I have never done this before but I think the idea is really solid.   I love pesto. I could eat it in a different way and on daily basis. And that includes breakfast.  On pasta which might just be my favorite, but I love pesto mixed with sun-dried tomatoes and spread between layers of cream cheese. And it is amazing yes, and stupidly good.  I just keep saying that, don’t I?

D&D_2020Basil – 2 bunches, stems removed
Garlic – 2 cloves or or more if you would like it
1 1/4 cups walnuts or there abouts – fear the pine nuts.*
1/4 cup really good olive oil
Whole milk ricotta

First mix the garlic in the food processor. Then add the walnuts and mix it up again   Do this before you add the basil. Because this is a good thing. It just seems to work so well. Then stream the olive oil in until you have it the consistency you want. Since I knew I would be adding ricotta, I opted for a little less olive oil than usual. Add about 1/4 cup of ricotta and see what you think. You might want a smidge more oil or a little more ricotta. If you want to go all crazy, toss in a few oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. Never a bad thing.

As always I add my Parmesan last and make sure I have extra for garnish.

I have to say that I’m glad I tried this the night I made it because after that the Boy ate the rest. Guess that’s a testament to the fact that it was good. Yep really good. Adding the ricotta did make the pesto a bit heavier, so it might be better if the fall, but I will be doing it again and I think the next time sun-dried tomatoes will be added.

Ham Salad – here I am attempting again … ugh, am I destined for failure?

I know I say my favorite (only) ham salad is from the Apple Market, but it is true. And then I look at the list of ingredients and see this: chopped ham. sweet relish, mayonnaise, onions, and black pepper.

D&D_2041And that really kind of makes me grumpy. Why can I not make a great ham salad out of simple ingredients. I do it with chicken salad, so what is the difference?? Makes me slightly crazy.

I do know I am going to have a ham salad sandwich for breakfast tomorrow. Yes, I eat all kind of random things for breakfast – cold tofu pad thai, pasta, cold pizza – and then some traditional things – peanut butter toast, toast with really good salted butter and apple jelly, toast with really good salted butter and local honey. Yes, toast seems to be a thing. Pop Tarts – specifically blueberry or brown sugar.

Okay, after wondering far afield, let us get back to ham salad.

1st – what kind of ham to buy and what to do with it. In the Apple Market version is seems more than just chopped as I know it. Almost minced. Maybe run through a food mill, or pulsed a few times in a food processor?  Wonder who at Apple Market I can bribe to find out the answer?

So what I did was buy an 8oz ham steak, trimmed that weird stuff that is around the outside edge, and cube it. Then I put it in the food processor for 8-10 pulses, until it looked like what I thought would work best. 

2nd – The sweet relish always made sense to me, but you should not go overboard, nor should you make it to liquidy – drain that relish for the most part, just like you do with deviled eggs.

This ended up to be about 3 Tbs, but that is a subjective thing – more or less if you would like.

3rd – Mayonnaise, Duke’s specifically, needs to be just enough to hold it together, but not go overboard. This might be subjective but as my mom would say, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away. Guess that’s why I will add this last.

It was only 2 Tbs and that was almost too much, but in the end, it worked out well.

4th – Onion – yikes there are lots of options here, but I think I will start simply. Yellow onion grated on the large holes of a box grater.  Again, it’s the – how much – that’s the issue.

Tasting as I go along will be key. I took a small onion and instead of grating on a box grated, used the food processor to pulse it to very small pieces and kept the juice and used it too – about 3 Tbs total when it came down to it. I’d say 3/4 of a small yellow onion.

5th – Seasoning with black pepper should not be a problem. I love black pepper.

Now the question is do I just make it or do I have some Apple Market ham salad to compare. Is that wise? Perhaps or perhaps not.

Also, I must let this sit for at least a day or two. It tasted okay as I was going along, but I know I won’t really have a good idea for how it will work until it has sat in the fridge for at least, I’m thinking, two days.

It did make a difference. I had been worried I put too much mayonnaise , but after a days rest in the fridge, it worked well. Actually might have needed a bit more.

Really, stupidly, good orzo – redux

This will be breakfast tomorrow. I don’t have much experience with orzo, but this seemed pretty easy and thankfully for me, idiot proof. The biggest point is to be patient. That I can do, especially since I was trying something new. Well not really new to me to eat, just the first time I made it – more to come on that shortly, but butter was involved.

The fact that Gruyere is involved in this recipe made it a no brainier for me since I’ve had a nice bit of it in the fridge that I’d been wanting to do something with … besides just eat it. I still have nice big piece left so expect some kind of cheesy something. Maybe some kind of crackers. Gruyere has a similar dryness (not in a bad way) that cheddar does, but also has an amazing nuttiness as well. Oh, and this is the good stuff, the real stuff, imported from Switzerland. Yep – I’m thinking some kind of crackers.  Sounds like a plan.

D&D_0309My thanks to the cutting edge of ordinary for sharing. Great name by the way. Maybe there is some truth in that name for all of us.

I made a half recipe and here are the proportions and method.

Everyday Orzo
2 Tbs butter
1 small onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
8 ozs orzo
1/3 cup Gruyere, grated (no substitution per the original)

Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat, add onion and sauté until translucent. Don’t let it brown. Add garlic and sauté for a minute more. In a glass measuring cup, heat the chicken stock to boiling in the microwave.

Add orzo to onion mixture and stir to coat with butter. Add in hot chicken stock, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 25 minutes without lifting the lid – this is serious – do not uncover. While waiting patiently, grate Gruyere. After time, check orzo and make sure liquid is absorbed. Add cheese and stir to melt. Season with salt and pepper. Lemon zest just makes it, but lemon juice also does the job.

This is a creamy lovely thing. Sigh. And amazingly great for breakfast. It’s just a thing for me. I think next time some lemon will be involved.  Indeed.

This was first published on 6 August 2015.

08 May 2017

Bill E’s Bacon – Fairhope, Alabama

You know I love my husband. The other day I asked him to go to the Apple Market which is not close to our house, but not terribly far either. It is just one of those place I do not get to often enough. I wanted some ham salad for Easter and it was great ham salad. [See post about letting others do things if they can do them better than you.]

Well, since the MotH had not been to Apple Market in donkey’s years, it was like a field trip for him and he just kept sending me photos at the office. One really struck a cord – Bill E’s bacon out of Fairhope, Alabama. It wasn’t ridiculously priced and, well, I am a sucker for local foods of all sorts. “Serenaded by Songwriters. Savored by Carnivores.” Interesting, if nothing else. Still not sure what it means. D&D_1831

Damn, I fried up a few strips to adorn the deviled eggs and the German potato salad for Easter brunch. That is totally gilding the lily.

Now, what do I do with the rest of it. Ah, we shall see. I love bacon-wrapped dates (or any dried fruit for that matter) stuffed with cheese, or even better some other piggy parts. Although that may be over kill.

This bacon is really smoky, so I think going with a dried fruit and some kind of neutral cheesy-ness that I think might be just amazing.   D&D_1833

Bundt Pan problem – redux.

Dear lord, I do understand that I have too many bundt pans, but when you are a real Southern baking woman, can that really be true? Or are you a real baker? In my head, that is a no. Never too many bundt pans and never too many recipes for pound cake either. This is one of my William-Sonoma Gold Touch Pans. They are just too amazing. The bake is great – not too dark and not too light. They say they are non-stick-ish, but I never trust that and spray with baking spray, especially to get in the corners and what nots of these pans.

dd_1519

All my Williams  Sonoma bundt pans are from Nordic Wear – a made in America company that has been around for ages and a day – since 1946. This one is the heritage bundt pan based on the German design of the kugelhopf. To be honest, this is one of the simplest of the bundt pans that I have, but it is one of my favorites.  It still is rather architectural and looks good with a simple bit of confectioners’ sugar on it.

Hey – look at that – I spelled confectioners’ right the first time – slightly amazing.