Archive for the 'Recipe' Category

French-style Hot Chocolate

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Instead of spending Christmas Day in Birmingham like we usually do, The Astronomer and I are rendezvousing with the Chaplins in Charleston, South Carolina. As much as I love Alabama, I am very excited about our holiday destination.

I was inspired this past weekend to make a trio of Chaplin Christmas favorites since we’ll be exploring Charleston’s culinary scene rather than eating at home this year.

Between The Astronomer and me, we whipped up a big pot of oyster and wild rice bisque, a batch of molasses spice cookies, and best of all, enough French-style hot chocolate to take us well into 2014.

“Here’s the Christmas elixir—for soul chill, fat deprivation, or ordinary happiness deficit,” wrote my mother-in-law when she emailed me the recipe last week.

This recipe for “Authentic French Chocolate” comes from Eat, Drink, and be Chinaberry, a cookbook first published in 1996 that’s a staple in The Astronomer’s mother’s collection. One of the book’s contributors’ father brought this recipe home following his time in France during World War II.

What’s really special about this hot chocolate is its light and frothy texture and incredibly rich profile—the result of melted bittersweet chocolate swimming in a sea of whipped cream. Dolloped generously into a mug of warmed milk and sipped (or maybe even slurped), it’s like no other hot chocolate I’ve ever experienced.

It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas ’round here.

  • 5 ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Milk, to serve

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

Begin by finely chopping the chocolate.

French Hot Chocolate (a Chaplin Christmas Tradition)

In a small sauce pan, combine the chocolate and water and melt over medium heat. When the chocolate has completely melted, add the sugar and salt, whisking to incorporate. Cook for four minutes and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and cool to room temperature.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve been cooking and baking up a (quiet) storm these past couple of months, but haven’t shared too many recipes due to the sheer volume of restaurant and travel coverage that needs to be written before the Year in Delicious. It still hasn’t quite sunk in yet that 2014 is literally around the corner.

Since the founding spirit of Eat My Blog was to bring to life the stuff of food porn dreams, it feels appropriate to take a break from my usual material and introduce an exquisite dessert instead.

This recipe for Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting, which I adapted from The Food Librarian who adapted it from Kitchen Runway who adapted it from Paula Deen, was originally meant to be a sheet cake. Sheet cakes are terrific for feeding a crowd, but Eat My Blog demands a more portable, adorable, and affordable sweet!

Even though Paula Deen sucks, this recipe totally and completely rules. In fact, I’ve made it twice in the past two months and plan on doing so a few more times before pumpkin season comes to a close and peppermint reigns supreme.

The cake’s texture is awesomely moist, with a nice and springy crumb. The frosting is rich yet tangy, thanks to a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I’ve baked a lot of cakes over the years and have never been as pleased with the results as I was with this recipe. It’s the best thing I’ve ever baked.

Say you’ll eat my blog?

For cupcakes

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
  • 1 cup (200 grams) canola oil
  • 15 ounces pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (6 ounces) sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin puree, and vanilla.

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder & soda, spices, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture into the pumpkin. Stir to combine until completely blended.

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Ruth Reichl’s Dangerously Delicious Apricot Jam

Ruth Reichl's Dangerously Delicious Apricot Jam

Making preserves has always held a fascination for me, but so far I’ve shied away because it seemed like such a to-do. To avoid the fussiness of traditional jam making, Ruth Reichl suggests making small, “dangerously delicious” batches that can be consumed within the span of a few weeks, thus eliminating all need for special materials and specific methods. Win, win. I’m in.

After procuring two pounds of apricots and setting aside an evening without commitments, I set out to make my first lazy man’s jam. First, I pulled apart the fruit using my bare hands, leaving the skins on and removing the pits, then I made a simple syrup and macerated half the fruit in it. More fruit, a whole vanilla bean, and a squeeze of lemon juice later, I had a dangerously delicious apricot jam on my hands. I couldn’t believe how awesomely simple it all was.

The Astronomer and I have been slathering this stuff on everything from traditional toast to gio chao quay (Chinese fried crullers). The crullers’ salty notes play well with the jam’s intrinsic sweetness. Additionally, I’ve been jazzing up my plain Greek yogurt with a generous dollop.

This jam is our jam.

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 pounds apricots
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only

Ruth Reichl's Dangerously Delicious Apricot Jam

Pull apart the apricots using your hands, leaving the skins on and removing the pits.

Ruth Reichl's Dangerously Delicious Apricot Jam

Stir the sugar and water together in a small heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring until clear, 1-2 minutes. Add half the apricots to the syrup. Simmer until they disintegrate, stirring, for about 10 minutes.

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Bún Bò Huế – Vietnamese Beef & Lemon Grass Noodle Soup

Bun Bo Hue

With the help of Grandma and my aunts these past couple of years, I’ve learned how to prepare almost every noodle soup that I giddily slurped as a child and hungrily craved as an adult. Grandma taught me how to tame pho bo and bo kho from her home kitchen, while my aunts showed me the ins and outs of bun rieu and hu tieu through detailed emails and patient telephone calls.

I’ve amassed quite a repertoire of recipes on this site over the years, preserving a small piece of family history in the process and guaranteeing that all future cravings are swiftly satisfied.

Most recently, Grandma and I tackled bun bo Hue, a complex and heady beef noodle soup scented with lemongrass, packed with pork trotters, and littered with congealed pigs’ blood.

While the city of Hue is known for its spicy fare, Grandma’s version of the former imperial capital’s famous noodle soup is quite tame because she’s needed to refine and adjust it over time to placate the palates of her American-born, spice-averse grandchildren. What can I say? My cousins and I were weak when it came to heat when we were younger.

The most magical part of making bun bo Hue happens around hour three when the beef, pork, and lemongrass broth is transformed into the familiar fiery orange soup. Grandma uses a sizzling mixture of vegetable oil, scallions, fish sauce, and paprika to impart the broth with its characteristically bright hue and rich, umami flavor. Never in a million years would I have guessed that a jar of paprika resided in Grandma’s cupboard for this very recipe.

A heavy dose of fermented shrimp paste, along with a touch of sugar and salt, add the finishing touches to the broth. The soup is ready to be served when the slices of beef and the pigs’ feet are both perfectly tender, after approximately 4 hours total.

For broth

  • 2.5 pounds pigs’ feet, cut into chunks
  • 2.5 pounds beef shank
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons salt, separated
  • 9 stalks lemongrass
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, white parts only, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fermented shrimp paste
  • 1 tablespoon monosodium glutamate, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar

For garnish and noodles

Bun Bo Hue

To prepare the broth, begin by cleaning the pigs’ feet under running water to remove any bits of bone debris that the butcher left behind. Don’t forget to run your fingers beneath the skin where unsightly debris may have gotten trapped.

Bun Bo Hue

Place the cleaned pigs’ feet and beef shank in a large stockpot filled with enough water to submerge them and bring to a boil. The shank and feet are full of impurities, so once the water comes to a boil, dump it out and collect the feet and shank in a colander.

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