This summer we had another in a long line of great interns. But
one of the things that set Mandy Simpson apart was that she plied
us with treats while she was here. (Note to all future interns:
baking is a bonus skill.) She made us strawberry pie, and some
going-away goodies called bourbon balls.
They were an instant hit, and I knew this summer that I’d be
making them for Christmas. I mean, how can you go wrong combining
holidays and chocolate-y, little, boozy balls?
The recipe came by way of Mandy’s mom in the form of a copied
newspaper clipping from a Judy Cunningham of Roanoke, Virginia. So
thank you all to Mandy, her mom and Mrs. Cunningham, wherever you
I made them and some adaptations for a recent cookie exchange
and will be giving some soon as Christmas gifts.
I made these little cheese snacks this weekend, and the friends
I shared them with seemed to enjoy them.
I’m not kidding about the one ingredient, though you can spiff
it up with herbs, spices and/or a mix of cheeses.
Done right, they can be an airy, crispy snack that happens to be
low-carb (though perhaps high-fat) .
So here’s how you do it. Shred some parmesan cheese, sprinkle it
in circles on parchment paper or a lightly oiled baking pan, bake
at 350-degrees for about 7 minutes, remove immediately from the pan
to cool, and you’re done. If you want, you can shape them
immediately out of the oven by draping them over something or
forming little cups.
You can play around with it by mixing in pepper, cayenne pepper
or other herbs and spices with them. I added finely chopped
rosemary to one batch, but the herbs burned before the wafers were
done. Tossing in a little oil beforehand may have helped.
There were a few lessons I learned while making them:
Watch them while baking: The cheese can scorch and taste
burnt pretty fast. Pull them out when they start to just become
Grate your own: I tried it at first with some
pre-shredded parmesan from the grocery store, but preferred the
cheese I shredded myself using the tiny shredding part of the
grater. The store-bought had too much powdery grated cheese, which
melts together in a clump and ends up being either chewy or
thickens into something that’s hard.
Keep it thin: When sprinkling, just put a thin
layer for each chip, leave a lot of holes. Most of it will melt a
little together. I preferred something a little more delicate, so
this colors my judgement. I think it’s something that you just have
to play around with.
Not all cheeses mix: Mixing parmesan and swiss
seemed to work well and parmesan with Asiago or other similarly
hard cheese came out great. Cheddar, however, at least the sharp
Tillamook I tried was not a good choice. They don’t melt at the
same rate, so the cheddar ends up being just a burned mess. I
didn’t try it, but mozerella or other cheese with a higher fat
content is probably more likely to melt.
Somehow, I managed to hold on to a half pound of crab meat
without eating it immediately! For those who know me, this
is quite a feat. I can barely wait for a crab to cool before I
start ripping the thing open, let alone let shelled meat wait to
become part of a cooked dish.
But I’d decided on making crab cakes.
My past attempts have been OK, variations on some flour, egg,
maybe a few herbs and, of course, crab. The best I’d previously
done was one that included very few of the former and a whole lot
of the latter. It was basically crab meat loosely held together by
some stuff you couldn’t taste at all over the crab.
But I wanted to do it up right and fancy. Plus I’d recently
thumbed through Seattle culinary icon Tom Douglas’
“I Love Crab Cakes!”, 50 recipes that examine
different cake styles, different crabs and recipes from all
And then I happened upon a recipe that included another one of
my favorite food-like substances: beer.
So it ended up being not exactly a crab cake, it’s
technically a deep-fried fritter.
It turned out well, though I could have used a little more crab
for my personal tastes. I used a pilsner so as not to overpower the
flavor, which also ends up being a great leftover to pair with the
fritters afterward. I lack a hot oil thermometer, so I probably had
it a little too hot, not cooking the inside quickly enough before
getting a deep browned outside and allowing the whole thing to
crisp. I paired it with a garlic-y remoulade dip, that was OK, but
not spectacular so I’m not adding the recipe here. The book has one
that I’ve yet to try. I also served a side salad and a corn
I love avocados. It’s a new-found love of my adulthood, and
after shunning them and the ubiquitous guacamole for years, I
somehow several years ago found myself craving them: sliced in
salads, on sandwiches, even raw with a dash of salt and pepper.
Oddly enough, I’m still not a huge fan of guacamole. It must
have been the texture or bad guacamole that had turned me off for
so long. So a few years back, about the start of my avocado
adoration, I became wild about a fairly simple avocado dip that
didn’t involve smashing the fruit.
The portions and additions in the recipe change nearly every
time I make it depending on how much I make and my mood. But the
key to the whole thing is scoring the avocado while it’s still in
its skin and scooping out the chunks and being gentle while mixing
so you don’t mash the avocado (or mash away if that’s your
The recipe can be doubled or quadrupled if you’re thinking of
putting it out for a party (um, like that thing happening on Sunday
that doesn’t involve anything close to a Seattle team). Continue reading →
I’ve been trying to make more of the food I eat at home both to
save a little money and to make meals and snacks healthier. So last
night, I worked on homemade potato chips. Yeah, I know. Potato
chips are like the embodiment of all that’s unhealthy.
I decided to try baking them to reduce the oil, and I played
with sweet potatoes, which have higher nutritional value.
I broke out my mandoline and tried making them at various
widths, adjusted the temperature of the oven, the amount of oil and
threw a sweet potato in the mix because I love sweet potatoes.
Continue reading →