- Jalapeno Pickle Brined Fried Chicken (with ranch. duh, this is America)
- Blue Cheese Potato Salad w/ Bacon and Scallion
- Beergarita Popsicles with Smoky Chile Salt
- Tomato and Peach salad with Basil and Red Onion
- Strawberry Icebox Cake
There’s a lot of stuff we hope you take away from reading this blog. Little things like making sure you eat (so you don’t turn into a cunt). Jokey stuff about not eating dairy on Valentine’s Day (which is actually very sound advice). Even bigger preachy shit about maaaybe giving yourself a break and NOT viewing weightloss as the pinnacle of being a successful human.
But the biggest thing we hope you remember after reading my dumb little words and looking at Lucy’s photos: food doesn’t have to be fancy to be delicious. Nothing tastes better than getting out of the way of tasty ingredients. And, right now, our ingredient of choice is strawberries.
Short of the Oreo McFlurry, there is no dessert finer than Christina Tosi’s Corn Cookies. Perfectly crunchy, with a tender, chewy center, we could seriously eat them all day. Add a little blueberry ice cream, and we could eat them all night, too.
These walk the line of salty-sweetness in a big way. It maybe is an acquired taste but, we promise, not as weird as it sounds. Corn, especially when freeze dried like this recipe requires, is so candy sweet, it hardly counts as a vegetable. Instead, it brings a grassy– almost buttery– top note to the cookie that reminds us of the flawless almond cookies at our favorite Chinese takeout spot.
In the grand tradition of our favorite midwestern “salads,” Strawberry Pretzel Salad contains no lettuce. This one doesn’t even have vegetables.
Instead, a layer of vanilla-flecked cream is nestled between a thick slab of strawberry-studded gelatain and buttery, salty pretzels. Not too sweet, and not too salty, it has been served at every picnic in rural Illinois since the dawn of time. Unfortunately, the classic ingredient list is predictably dated. Whipped topping and neon-pink, artificially flavored gelatin “product” among them….
The fact that Strawberry and Rhubarb season overlap is almost enough to make us go to church. Kind of like how flour and water alone turn into sourdough bread, or milk plus mold will someday equal cheese; only a higher power could allow such a perfect pair to come together for our gastronomic pleasure.
If dessert were a double act, Rhubarb would be Desi to Strawberry’s Lucy, Keenan to its Kel, Harold to its Kumar, Anne Perkins to its Leslie Knope. Rhubarb, while lovable, isn’t the tastiest or most memorable part of the dish. Instead it is the acerbic foil Strawberries need to taste their best, be their sweetest, and become basically everyone’s favorite fruit….
Sometimes it’s hard to find inspiration in (or out of) the kitchen and that low creative tide can feel terrifying, like you’ll never be able to make something again. Like you never actually were able to make something in the first place. Like you’ve been a big phoney your whole life and everything that came before was just one big accident or coincidence or misunderstanding. That amazing soup you made last week? Yeah, that was actually terrible. Everyone who ate it was just being polite. That cake you make for everyone’s birthday that’s, like, your thing? It is, always has been, and always will be horrible and you have irreparably bad taste and instincts for not immediately seeing it as such. Also, you’re going to die alone and no one likes you, not even your cats.
The ebb and flow of creativity is perfectly normal, but it never feels that way. It feels like the deficit is reality and will last forever and every mean thing you can think about yourself is gospel, digging you deeper into a crappy hole of crap, because feelings, especially the rotten ones are not even a little bit logical. Because they’re fucking Rude.
But the truth is that, yes, we are competent and, yes, our cats do love us, and creativity will come back once we get out of our own way and let it happen. And the best way to step aside and welcome your creativity to back into the room is to try something new. Something that will invigorate and refresh and stir up the juju. Something that’s just novel enough to distract you from your big dumb head while all the garbage drains out of it, so you can get back to what you do best: being a total badass.
Shrub is something we’ve been waiting to make since Rachel tried it at Eat Retreat and it is the perfect choice to shake shit up in the kitchen. It’s tasty, idiot-proof, and refreshing as fuck.
Nothing more than a blend of fruit, vinegar, and sugar, Shrub is the invention of the 17th century English need preserve delicate fruits through the long winter. It’s bright and fresh with an assertive tang, but it isn’t overpowering. The quasi-pickling somehow brings out the subtle floral flavors in the fruit and makes a syrup that is basically Kool-Aid for grownup– and we’re happy to report it’s done its job quite nicely.
It’s that time of year where mornings are getting hard. Maybe it’s our S.A.D., or maybe it’s survival instinct hibernation, but we can’t get our asses out of bed. Everything’s grey, and it’s windy, and it’s too cold to put our bare toes on the floor. We always oversleep so there’s no time for the luxuriating over trashy gossip mags with milky coffee that makes our day jobs tenable— but there is time for breakfast.
Baked Oatmeal tastes like cookies. No. Baked Oatmeal tastes better than cookies, because you can eat more of it before you get a tummy ache. With its bright, sunny lemon and juicy blueberries, it can shake the bleak chill off any winter morning. Make a batch on Sunday night and you will have a week of breakfasts that are worth waking up for.
This is one of our many recipes that is a few ratios followed by a couple suggestions. So long as you don’t add wildly different amounts of oats or liquids, there’s no need to be bashful. Fuck around with it. Throw in a handful of walnuts or slivered almonds, swap blueberries for dried cherries, and maybe try classic, comforting maple & cinnamon instead of lemon.
Sometimes simply prepared fruit makes the best dessert- especially in fucked-up hot weather like this. But, when weather’s weird, harvests don’t always work out as expected, and sometimes your favorite fruits taste like garbage.
We found ourselves with some serious garbage peaches last week and it took us by surprise. They smelled great!! They seemed perfectly soft without being mushy!! They tasted like Granny Smith apples… if Granny Smith apples also tasted like saw dust. We were heart broken but we didn’t want to waste them.
Vinaigrettes bring a new depth of flavors to otherwise kind of Meh foods and, in addition to making foods taste just generally better, their assertive flavor profiles can cover a wide variety of culinary sins. We paired our shitty peaches with the Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette we had intended for melon, and turned a boring, disappointing bowl of fruit into a bold, delicious treat that we couldn’t stop eating.
It’s fucking hot outside. We don’t want to move. We don’t even want to type this. We just want to stop sweating for ten goddamned minutes and lay in front of a fan and eat fudgepops— but the only fudgepops we can ever find at the store are gross sugar-free fat-free chemical monstrosities. So we made our own. And they’re fucking tasty.
To mimic the sort of strange but sort of amazing soft texture of store bought fudgepops, we used coconut milk. Its relatively higher fat content gives it a creamier mouth feel and we were pleasantly surprised with the yummy coconut aftertaste. You can use cow’s milk if you want but we implore you use full fat and stay away from soy. We tried this recipe with 2% milk and with chocolate soy milk. Both came out weird and icy— not fudgy.
The first time we heard about using Balsamic vinegar with strawberries, we gagged. We incorrectly insisted that vinegar is for salad, for pickles, for condiments; it’s not for dessert and it’s certainly not for fruit. Balsamic is cider vinegar’s syrupy, umami cousin that is for swirling in olive oil and eating with warm baguettes. It’s rich and inky and makes cheese taste more like cheese. The second time we heard about using Balsamic vinegar on strawberries, our lovely friend Esther ignored our protests and made us taste it anyway. We are so glad that she did.
Something magical happens when you put vinegar on strawberries. It’s pungent but delicate, and makes sweetness sweeter without tasting sugary. You know the part of berries that just tastes “red?” It makes that taste…redder? Better. Something. Fucking gooooood.
Even though you don’t really need to do anything beyond putting vinegar on strawberries and putting that in your face, we decided to turn the surprising combo into an ice cream topping. Initially we tried it because the milky whiteness of vanilla ice cream with the deep purpley brown of the balsamic and redness of the berries looked super striking. Now we use it because when the ice cream melts and mixes with the balsamic it makes, basically, adult Strawberry Quik. Pistachios were added, because they were on hand, and the salt they contributed did what salt does and made everything taste more like itself.
If you don’t have vanilla beans handy, spare yourself the pathetic, over priced, misery that is the super market vanilla bean. At damn near $10 a bean, the stuff at the Jewel (or even Whole Foods) has probably been sitting on the shelf for a year, suffocating in a plastic bottle. It’s not worth your money, and you’d be better off using a splash of vanilla extract or omitting it all together. However, if you are into getting your hands on some real beans, you can find prize beauties on Amazon for less than $0.25 a bean. Rachel ordered a pack for $27 bucks from JR Mushroom & Specialties, and got well over 100 of the plumpest, juiciest, oiliest vanilla beans that she’d ever seen.