In the Kitchen: Retro Hors d’oeuvres

Dear Constant Reader,

Today is Memorial Day, when many people usually have a barbecue or potluck to celebrate the start of summer.* That’s not going to happen so much this year. I’m going to make a few canapés and hors d’oeuvres for two to enjoy in the backyard with some cocktails. This recipe takes me back to my childhood.

When I first had these tasty bites, they were made by Mary Browne, a friend of my parents. Mary was a great hostess and many of her dishes that guests praised highly were simpler than you might think**. This was one of them. It’s so simple, there isn’t even really a recipe.

You need Untitledcocktail rye, chopped onion, mayonnaise, and Swiss cheese.

Spread some mayo on a slice of the bread. Sprinkle it with chopped onion. Top it with a piece of cheese the same size as the bread and stick the whole thing under the broiler until the cheese bubbles. That’s it!
Untitled
Serve them piping hot. Something magical happens when you heat everything up. Even if you think you don’t like mayonnaise or raw onion, you might like these.

You can, of course, use any kind of bread you have, but cut an average-sized slice into quarters. Similarly, use any kind of sliced or shredded cheese you like. No onion? Any allium will do (but go light if you’re using garlic). I’ve seen variants on this that add seasoning the mayo or add other ingredients (like crumbled bacon!) to the onion, but I’m kind of a purist.

I think I’m also going to make a few Bedroll Specials and some White Bean Dip to have with crudité. Are you making anything special today?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

* I have nothing against a holiday weekend celebrating the start of summer; I just wish it wasn’t the day we are supposed to honor our military dead.
**The exception was her amazing angel biscuits. She even gave me the recipe and I couldn’t get it right.

Published in: on 25 May 2020 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: In the Kitchen: Dollface Kitchen

Dear Constant Reader,

New book review for you!

Dollface Kitchen by Cherry Dollface (2020)

This is the second book from pinup model and vintage enthusiast, Cherry Dollface. (I’ve had her first book since it came out and never reviewed it — must be better about that…) As you probably guessed from the title, it’s a cookbook. You know how much I love cooking, especially vintage recipes! She was supposed to have a book release party at Viva, but instead it got moved to FB and IG Live. It was fun to watch her sign my book on-line, but I miss author events…

It’s probably not the best timing to try to review a cookbook during lockdown, since mostly I have to look at the recipes and sigh. The book is organized into six categories, of the sort you would expect like main dishes and desserts. Each of those has three “Healthy-ish” recipes, three “Not-so-healthy”, and two vintage recipes — one “weird” and one “wonderful”. The vintage recipes are the sort found on boxes and cans and I’m unclear if she’s actually cooked any of them. All recipes are marked if they are vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and/or gluten-free.

As you might expect of a pin-up model, the boook is full of photographs. Cherry is shown posing with food, in the kitchen, or just making faces (usually at a weird vintage recipes). There are also tempting photos of all the dishes (except some of the vintage ones). Everything looks bright and fun. I’m looking forward to trying several of these, like the carnitas tacos, baked oatmeal, and caramel apple bread pudding. I can’t wait to cook for friends again!

All of Cherry’s recipes have notes from her about how to change things up or her personal preferences (she doesn’t like onions) in the header of the recipe. She also tells you if the recipe can be changed up to fit diet requirements, like swapping out chicken broth for veggie to make a soup vegetarian. I really like the little cartoon bubbles with another helpful tip. You know I’m all about the helpful tips… It’s a very friendly book, occasionally even silly, like the recipe that starts, “Preheat oven to 450. Just kidding, this is fruit salad.” She writes as though she’s chatting with you, which is nice in this kind of lonely time.

I couldn’t review the book without making something. The “wonderful” vintage dessert Fudge Batter Pudding had the note “If you try any of my vintage recipes…try this bad boy!” So I did. You make a simple chocolate sauce that goes in the bottom of a baking pan, then you spoon a chocolate batter on top and bake. The result is a sort of brownie with a fudgy sauce underneath it. The cake part is on the dry side (it has no eggs and only a smidge of butter and milk), so it needs the sauce. When we had it cold the next day, a little cream poured over was a nice addition. It was easy to make and can be whipped up from pantry staples, so I’ll call it a win.

The book is only available from Working Class Publishing, but I think you can still get a signed copy. It may take longer to get to you, but where else do you have to go…?

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 14 May 2020 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Potato Kugel

Dear Constant Reader,

I promise I will get back to writing about burlesque. Someday. Soon, I hope.

Last night was the first night of Passover and Scratch and I made a little feast for ourselves. He made the matzo ball soup and charoset, and hunted down the elusive gefilte fish. I cooked a brisket, potato kugel, and roasted asparagus.

A friend, seeing my pictures on social media, asked for the kugel recipe, so I’ll share. (*whisper* It’s easy…)

For those unfamiliar, what is kugel? It’s translated as “pudding”, but before you have visions of a custardy sweet, think casserole. The most common kugels are potato and noodle, with the ingredients held together with egg and then baked and served as a side dish.

I’ve loved potato kugel since I was small. My grandmother had all our festive meals catered by Kartzman’s Deli and their’s was the first I had. I still haven’t managed to replicate it. I wasn’t as big a fan of the noodle kugel, which was the sweet kind, with raisins. (I much prefer savory noodle kugel.)

You don’t even really need a recipe and I generally kind of wing it, but I’ll give you the amounts I used last night.

Potato Kugel
2 large baking potatoes (about a pound and a half)
1 large onion
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup fat, divided (I used goose fat, since it was a holiday, but use oil, butter, whatever you like).

Peel and grate the potatoes. I use a food processor. I’ve never heard anyone say kugel potatoes must be grated by hand, unlike latke potatoes.

Salt the potato shreds and let them sit for a bit.

Chop the onion, maybe a shallot too if you’ve got it. Sauté the onion in half the fat until softened and a little golden, about 5 minutes.

Squeeze as much liquid out of the potatoes as possible. An easy way to do this is to put the grated potatoes in a dish towel and squeeze it. Or if you don’t feel like doing laundry, like me, just grab handfuls of potato and squeeze them over the sink.

Throw the wrung-out potatoes into a bowl. Mix in the onion and some ground black pepper.

Mix in the beaten eggs.

Heat the rest of the fat in a skillet and add the potato mixture, smoothing the top, but not packing it down. I used an 8″ pan and it was perfect for this amount.

Bake at 400F for about 50 minutes. The top should be brown and the edges crispy and sizzling. If it’s not brown enough, you could brush the top with some melted fat and pop it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

I sprinkled it with snipped chives before serving. My parsley has barely broken the surface of my garden and I wanted some fresh spring herbs in this meal.

This made enough for 4 people. There are only two of us, so leftovers!

Enjoy!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 9 April 2020 at 1:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Krupnikas

Dear Constant Reader,

Elsewhere on social media someone was lamenting that she had a bottle of vodka that was too weak* to use for disinfecting and too cheap to drink. I suggested making a cordial. You don’t want to use good vodka** for that.

Cordials are alcohol infused with fruit, herbs, and/or spices, sweetened, and sometimes diluted. Some cordials need to sit for a long time, like cherry bounce, to get a good flavor. However, krupnikas, Lithuanian*** spiced honey vodka, can be made in a matter of minutes and served right away.

I flavor mine with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and lemon peel. You could also use fresh ginger slices, cardamom seeds, caraway seeds, vanilla (slice the bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds, and add the whole thing), orange peel, peppercorns, &c. Feel free to experiment!

Krupnicas
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup honey
4 cinnamon sticks
4 strips of lemon peel (just the peel, no white pith)
3 cloves
some fresh grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups vodka

Put the water, spices, and peel in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the honey and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vodka. Serve hot immediately or let cool. Once it’s cool, remove the spices, and pour into a bottle through a coffee filter-lined funnel. Store in a dark place. It lasts about forever.

Į sveikatą! — To your health!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

*Alcohol needs to be 70% for disinfecting purposes — that’s 140 proof!

**If you have decent vodka, use it in cocktails. If you have excellent vodka, stick it in the freezer and drink it in tiny icy-cold shots with at least two other friends accompanied by ever more extravagant toasts and some snacks like pickled herring on black bread.

***I am, at least in part, of Lithuanian descent. Bet you didn’t know that!

Published in: on 28 March 2020 at 6:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Nana’s Meatloaf

Dear Constant Reader,

I figure we could all use a little comfort food right now. This meatloaf is one of my only true old family recipes, coming from my mother’s mother, known to her myriad beloved grandchildren as Nana.

My glamourous Nana modeling her beautifully coifed red hair.

This meatloaf has been loved by at least three generations. It’s easy and can be thrown together quickly from staples. Necessary for someone feeding a big family — besides herself and my grandfather, there were five children, her mother (the original Wilhelmina, from whom I take my name), and her brother. It’s remarkably unfussy in terms of ingredients and lends itself to variations. I’ve changed up the ingredients from time to time, but Nana’s original recipe is the one I come back when I need a little comfort.

You will need…

  • Ground meat. The original recipe calls for “chopmeat”, but you can use any kind of ground meat. I’ve made this with ground beef and ground turkey and meatloaf mix. I’ve never tried it with sausage meat, but that might work.
  • Minced onion. There’s no quantity in the recipe, but I usually use about half an onion. If you’re low on produce, use dried onion flakes.
  • Shortening. Use classic Crisco for authenticity. I usually use olive oil, but you could use butter or even bacon fat for extra deliciousness.
  • Catsup. I try to avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners in condiments, so I use a ketchup sweetened with honey (it’s really hard to find sugar-free ketchup). Although it smells obviously of honey, when heated, I didn’t notice any difference in taste in the finished product. If you like something zippier, use chili sauce. You could also use barbecue sauce.
  • Breadcrumbs. I’ve made this with standard supermarket breadcrumbs, homemade breadcrumbs, and panko. If you don’t have breadcrumbs, toast a couple slices of bread and crush them in a ziptop bag with a rolling pin (or a wine bottle). Sometimes, when I use turkey, I’ve used stuffing mix instead of breadcrumbs. I’ve also used crushed corn chips — pairs nicely with the chili sauce above.
  • An egg. No explanation required.
  • Milk. It works just as well with non-dairy milk as with the real thing. 3 ounces is slightly more than a third of a cup.
  • To get started, heat the shortening or other fat in a small frying pan. Sauté the onions until softened. Add ketchup and remove from the heat. If you’re using dried onion, skip this step.

    Put the meat in a large bowl and add the breadcrumbs. Add the ketchup mixture (or dried onions and ketchup), egg, and milk. Now’s the time to also add salt and pepper or any other seasonings you like. Now plunge your (very clean!) hands in and mix! There’s something very satisfying about squishing the mixture all together. The only time I remember my mother taking off her wedding ring was to make meatloaf.

    When well combined, mold into a loaf and put into a small baking dish. My mother always made this in one of those Corningware baking dishes with the blue flowers on the side. I wish I had a set of those…

    Bake for 1 hour at 350F until cooked through in the middle. Serve with mashed potatoes and a green veggie. When I was a kid, that was often peas, which we would mix into our mashed potatoes for Polka Dot Potatoes. It seemed like a special treat. These days, I prefer green beans with a hot vinegar-bacon dressing. To each their own.

    There’s also a recipe for gravy, but I’ll be honest, I’ve never made it, because my mother never did. Perhaps one of these days I will, just to try it.

    Here’s the original recipe, exactly as passed down to me!

    Nana’s Meatloaf
    1 hr – 350

    1 lb chopmeat
    3/4 C breadcrumbs
    minced onion
    2 T shortening
    2 T catsup
    1 egg
    3 oz. milk

    Sauté onion in shortening. Add catsup.

    Add breadcrumbs to meat. Add catsup mixture, egg & milk.

    Gravy — melt 3 T butter with 2 T flour. Add 1 t. gravy master, 1 C water & 1 T catsup

    Enjoy!

    M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 24 March 2020 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    In the Kitchen: Gingerbread from Hell

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Tomorrow is my birthday, so here’s a tasty treat for you.

    At the beginning of January Christine McConnell held an all-day livestream where we could bake and decorate gingerbread cookies along with her. I gathered the supplies on her list (plus a Dremel, just in case) and got ready to break in my brand-new stand mixer.

    I happily made the gingerbread dough and stashed it in the fridge, when I hit a major stumbling block. Christine started sketching the template for our cookie. I can’t draw. She had conceived of Gingerbread Man meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. There was no way I could draw that. What was I going to do? I couldn’t just give up. After all, I had all this cookie dough and several more hours of livestream.

    Well, I told myself, surely you can draw a gingerbread man. Just make a classic cookie. And I discovered I could draw a gingerbread man outline. Then, how hard would it be to add in the splitting head or the rupturing chest. I can do that! Wait, I can definitely draw the snowman that one leg is morphing into. It’s just a couple of circles. And the other branching leg, yup. Okay, there’s no way I can make one arm into a rabid reindeer head. How about a tentacle…?

    And with those little steps, I created my cookie template. I cut out and baked the cookie (and bunch of supplemental bits) and it didn’t look half bad! I especially like the 3-D way the chest is breaking open — one of Christine’s clever little tricks.

    Of course, looking at other people’s cookies later, I could have just done any cookie shape I wanted to. There were lots of creative variations on the cookie Christine designed and some completely original designs as well. I’m glad I took up the challenge of trying to recreate what she was doing because it pushed me and I discovered I can draw a little better than I thought.

    It was starting to get close to the time I would have to leave for rehearsal, so I mixed up the royal icing (does she own stock in that?) and stashed it in the fridge until I could get back to the kitchen. At this point the livestream took a lengthy break to adjust the cameras, so the timing was perfect.

    When I was able to get back to my cookie two days later, I had the advantage of being able to watch the last two hours of the livestream as a recording and make a plan of attack for decorating the cookie.

    The very first thing to do was get the cookie to stand up. I’m delighted to say that it was a success! I expected it to be more challenging, but royal icing makes a great glue. It stood up on the first try and stayed standing! I let the icing dry for several hours before I started adding decorations.

    This was my first time working with modeling chocolate, which is what the snowman is made from. It’s a lot like working with a stiff clay, which periodically needs to be refrigerated as it gets too soft from the heat of your hands. It adhered nicely to the gingerbread and is easily shaped with fingers, since I didn’t have any sculpting tools.

    I’m not a great piper (icing — not music), not terrible, but I need some more practice to get clean, even lines. It’s a good thing you can erase mistakes with some quick brush work. I made a lot (which you can see on a close up view of the cookie). As you might imagine, it’s harder to pipe icing on a standing cookie than one lying flat. One of the smartest things I did was set the cookie up on a marble lazy-susan cheese board. I could easily turn the cookie and not have to worry about messing up anything.

    Instead of the classic piping cones, I have these great OXO piping bottles. However, I only had two and we were working with four colors of icing. I mixed up one bottle full of gingerbread-colored icing and left one plain white. After I piped everything that was white, I added food coloring to make the light blue, piped that, and then added more color to get the dark blue for the very last bit.

    I tried string work on the non-snowman leg and it was successful. Eventually. The brown icing was pretty thick due to the cocoa powder that was coloring it and the strings kept breaking. I gave up trying to outline the cookie with the brown icing. It kept falling off the cookie! It was much easier doing the crisscrossing blue strings behind the open chest, since that icing was a better consistency. And doing the scalloped edging on the base was so much fun!

    After a couple of hours I was done. Ta da!

    I also had Scratch take some pictures of me and my masterpiece. Yes, that’s exactly* how I looked while decorating my cookie: Sophia dress by Angie Pontani for Secrets in Lace, vintage poinsettia apron from Betty Blaize.

    And just for fun, Scratch made the Gingerbread Thing look a little more hellish:

    Photo session over, I made some hot chocolate and we dug in! I knew if I didn’t smash it up and eat it right away, the cookie would sit on my counter growing staler by the day while I admired it until I had to reluctantly throw it away. I’m pleased to say it tasted very good! The recipe for the cookie dough made twice as much as was needed, so the following weekend I let Scratch’s nieces loose in the kitchen with my Halloween cookie cutters.

    I’m feeling emboldened after this adventure. I think there may be more decorating in my future. Maybe I’ll have another tea party soon….

    Here’s a short video. I’m having fun creating these little things.

    * In reality I was wearing leopard-print pajama pants & a black hoodie with my hair in a ponytail. But don’t I clean up nice?

    M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 18 February 2020 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    In the Kitchen: Fashionable Apple Dumplings

    Dear Constant Reader,

    You might remember from Queen Drop Biscuits that I’m very fond of The Victorian Way video series from English Heritage. When I saw the video for Fashionable Apple Dumplings, I needed to try it.

    Here the original recipe from Modern Cookery In All Its Branches by Eliza Acton (1860):

    Fashionable apple dumplings
    There are boiled in small knitted or closely-netted cloths (the former have, we think, the prettiest effect), which give quite an ornamental appearance to an otherwise homely dish). Take out the cores without dividing the apples, which should be large, and of a good boiling sort, and fill the cavity with orange or lemon marmalade, enclose them in a good crust rolled thin, draw the cloths round them, tie them closely and boil them for three quarters of an hour. Lemon dumplings may be boiled in the same way.
    3/4 to 1 hour, if the apples be
    not of the best boiling kind.


    The first thing I did was knit a couple of plain cotton dishcloths, which you can see on the photo along with some Cortland apples (my favorite), homemade blood orange marmalade, some flour and grated suet (I know, they look almost the same).

    Following the video, I made a dough from flour, grated suet, salt, and water. From my years of making Christmas pudding, I knew that suet pastry can hold up to hours of steaming and was a good choice for boiling. I also knew that it was probably going to taste boring.

    I peeled and cored the apples. The resulting hollow was filled with delicious marmalade and the whole apple encased in a thin layer of dough and sealed up very well.

    I brushed the dishcloth with melted butter, although Mrs. Acton doesn’t say to do so, Mrs. Crocombe does and it seemed like a good idea. Then I put a dough-wrapped apple on a cloth and bundled it up. Then tied the cloth up tightly with a bit of cotton string. In to the boiling water it went for about 45 minutes.

    And here’s the result!

    The dough took the imprint of the knitted cloth very well! The apple, however, had kind of collapsed within the dough and made for a rather squat dumpling. Maybe I boiled it too long or maybe I should have left the peel on. I feared the crust might be gummy, but it wasn’t, and it didn’t even taste half bad. The apple and orange marmalade combination was quite delightful and worth doing again. Boiling the dumplings in the knitted cloths was rather fussy and utterly Victorian, but one could probably get an easier and equally delicious result by simply wrapping the marmalade-filled apples in pie crust and baking. The dumplings won’t be fashionable, of course…

    M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 5 February 2020 at 3:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    In the Kitchen: The Dinner of Horror

    Dear Constant Reader,

    You might recall that I had been cooking from The Necronomnomnom and having a great deal of fun with it. A copy mysteriously appeared on the doorstep of my friend, Dr. Becky, and she, perhaps unwisely, suggested we get together in the kitchen and see what we could conjure up…

    It was a great plan! I am please to announce that no one died and any Elder Gods summoned were promptly dispatched (to the table).

    We began with Grape Old Wons — meat & cheese-stuffed wontons. The end result was supposed to look like eyes, but we couldn’t quite shape the wonton wrappers to look like lids. I should have gotten round ones instead of square. This recipe also showed the issues with translating the arcane recipes. I had interpreted “mixture from the ranch hidden in the valley” as ranch dressing mix and bought the powdered stuff. Dr. Becky, who has the bookstore edition with the recipes translated, discovered they meant bottled ranch dressing, so we added a little more milk and mayo to make up for it.

    Next was Pallid Bisque — seafood bisque. It’s hard to go wrong with crab, cream, and sherry. We tried molding little masks out of rice (in tribute to The King in Yellow) to garnish it, but we were only partially successful. If I did it again, I would use smaller shrimp (or larger bowls — although these have charming skulls on them) and dollop the sour cream onto the soup first, then arrange the rice masks and shrimp triskelions on top of it.

    Our main course, and crowning glory, was The Fate of The Elder Things — a most unusual eggplant parm. The hardest part was hollowing out the eggplant without rupturing the skin, but with saving the flesh for cooking. Next time I might try a melon baller. Then we breaded (with fresh, home-made breadcrumbs, by the way) and fried the eggplant tidbits, made a cheese sauce, and warmed up some marinara. The cheese sauce was poured into the hollowed out eggplant, where it oozed out of slits cut in the sides. The whole thing was topped with a slice of starfruit, procured by Dr. Becky’s husband when my market had none.

    This was accompanied by Dining Trapazohedron — a wedge salad. The very best part of this salad was the candied bacon. It took a bit of work — first you cook it almost crisp, then chop it up and fry it until it’s crunchy, then add brown sugar and cook until it’s glazed — but any good ritual should be a challenge. The blue cheese dressing wasn’t bad either…

    For dessert we served The Mounds of Tindalos — molten chocolate lava cake made in a slow cooker. We poured cake batter into the slow cooker, then chocolate pudding, then topped it all with a bag of chocolate chips and ignored it for the next three hours. I wasn’t sure what we were going to get but it smelled good. The result was so delicious — hot and gooey and intensely chocolate. We served it with a sprinkling of shredded coconut on each serving.

    I would (and probably will) make any of these dishes again. There’s also more than two dozen terrifying recipes awaiting my attention. You never know what I might bring to life next time…

    M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 21 January 2020 at 11:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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    In the Kitchen: Tomato-Parmesan Scones

    Dear Constant Reader,

    On Saturday I threw a little tea party at The Manor. It had been a while since my last one, but I hadn’t been feeling up to an elaborate to-do. I hadn’t been in a good place recently and I was badly missing my friends. So, I sent an invitation to a “low-key tea party”, promising only tea, scones and jam, and maybe cake.

    And then something exciting happened (more on that later) which got me feeling motivated again. While I still didn’t make any tea sandwiches, I ended up baking two kinds of scones and two types of cake. And, it being October, I had a spooky theme going with the cakes and serving ware. I served…

    Coffin brownies filled with Nutella and raspberries, served on a spirit board tray. I used the recipe for Supernatural Brownies from the NY Times and they were, in fact, scary good!

    Spice cake tombstones, served on a skull cake stand.

    Scones with currants and dried sour cherries (from our tree) from my favorite scone recipe. The heap of scones obscures the charming Victorian skeleton decoration on the bowl.

    And these scones were accompanied by sour cherry jam and blood orange marmalade (both homemade) and butter. Please note the skull spoons and skeleton knife (the blade says “poison”).

    Also, I made these savory scones as an experiment and I was very happy with the results. The recipe comes from Tea Fit for a Queen: Recipes & Drinks for Afternoon Tea and I’ve converted it from metric. I think the recipe could easily be doubled (and you want to).

    Sun-Dried Tomato and Parmesan Scones
    8 oz. self-rising flour (or about 1 1/4 cup flour, heaping 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt)
    1 3/4 oz. unsalted butter (3 Tablespoons plus a little)
    1 1/2 oz. grated Parmesan
    3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
    1 1/2 oz. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
    1/2 cup milk

    Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment (I use a Silpat).

    Sift flour into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the Parmesan, thyme leaves, and sun-dried tomatoes.

    Pour in the milk. Gently stir until the dough just comes together. Knead lightly until the dough is smooth.

    Pat dough into a round about an inch thick. Cut out scones. I got about 16 2″ round scones, but you could make them bigger. Bake about 10-15 minutes until barely browned.

    M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 21 October 2019 at 3:02 pm  Comments (2)  
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    Review: In the Kitchen: The Necronomnomnom

    Dear Constant Reader,

    If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen some photos lately of dishes with rather odd names and a sinister tome in the background. What is up with that? I’ve been cooking from…

    The Necronomnomnom
    It’s a cookbook, but a truly special one. It’s full of rituals and rites, illustrated with arcane sketches and notes, which must be interpreted to achieve tasty results. As you might have guessed from the title, it’s a Lovecraft-themed cookbook. There are fifty recipes, including cocktails, appetizers, entrees, side dishes, desserts, and even recipes for children (that is, for children to eat, not how to cook them). As the names evoke eldritch horrors, so do the presentations, with odd colors, additional tentacles, or inscribed runes (all edible, of course).

    The recipes have terribly wonderful Lovecraft pun names, like The Sandwich Horror or The Custard from Out of Space. But in order to cook them, you have to puzzle through the ingredient lists and instructions, which are written in archaic and mystical fashion — even poetry. The degree of obscurity varies from recipe to recipe, from relatively straightforward in terms of ingredient names and measurements to rather baffling at first glance.

    Here, for example are the ingredients for Deep Fried Deep One, the first dish I cooked.

    What is the Herb of Mysterious Purpose? The Bay of Elders? It helps to be an experienced cook, because once you figure out what the dish is, things start to fall in place. I was often chuckling at the cleverness of the authors or feeling smug that I puzzled things out.

    And the instructions for The Oats of Dagon.

    I’ll admit, this was a challenging one! I’m not even sure how many times I read and misinterpreted the instructions before I finally got it.

    The illustrations are very detailed and in perfect keeping with the theme. Be sure to read all the scribbled little notes — there’s a story running through the book. Here’s a little taste of the artwork:

    I managed to get my hands on a first, or Grimoire, edition, which is only the mystic rituals. There’s really nothing to break the illusion that this is a mysterious spell book and the cover is pretty horrifying. There was also a super-special edition with a three-dimensional flayed skin* cover, for that extra touch of realism.

    Don’t worry if the thought of figuring out the ingredients and instructions fills you with fear. The “Bookstore Edition“, which comes out in just a few days, has all the rituals and illustrations, but also practical additions like a table of contents, index, and… all the recipes in clear language in an appendix in the back. I’ve had a lot of fun figuring out the recipes, but I know that’s not for everyone.

    I’ve been really happy with most of the results! I’ve also had fun bringing out The Manor’s spookiest china and arranging the tentacles just right for a good photo. Here’s some New England Damned Chowder:

    For more delicious photos of my endeavors so far and some commentary on the recipes, I’ve created a photo gallery just for my Patrons.

    Highly recommended for creative cooks, lovers of puzzles, and weird fiction fans.

    *Or maybe cast latex…

    M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

    Published in: on 25 September 2019 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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