16 March 2012

Obligatory St. Patrick's Post, with recipe!

Though my favorite color in high school was green, I unintentionally never wore green on St Patrick's Day. This always kinda cracked me up. At some point, blue became my favorite color instead, and these days I have to work to look "festive". Not that this lack of greenness has ever bothered me unduly, being an Aquarian: I don't even want to be like the herd, let alone feel like I should be*. Heh. I still love the color green, it just doesn't enter my wardrobe much.

Somewhat similarly, I rarely, if ever, make corned beef and cabbage for St Pat's. I love corned beef, and also cabbage. This year, I'm going bananas. Hemplers corned beef, colcannon made with our own 2011 potatoes, and Mssrs Jameson and Bushmill in the house (this last isn't terribly unusal, other than the simultaneous residence). Plus, black bottom cupcakes made with Guinness, recipe courtesy of Sweet & Stout, a Spokane-based center of beer-and-cupcake-flavored Awesome.

They suggested an irish cream frosting, but I decided to put some Bushmills and vanilla straight into the cream cheese top half. I do believe I likey.

Guinness Black Bottom Cupcakes
adapted from Sweet and Stout
makes 12+ cupcakes
-Preheat oven to 350F.

Top Ingredients:
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Egg
1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 T Irish Whiskey
-Cream cream cheese, sugar and salt together. Add egg, blend well. Add vanilla and whiskey, make it all nice and nice and smooth. Don't blend everything together at once, like I did, against my better judgement: the cream cheese will be slightly lumpy, no matter the beating you subject it to.
-Set aside.

Bottom Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Flour
1/4 cup Cocoa
1 tsp Baking Soda
-Whisk together in a large bowl.
1 stick Butter, melted
1 cup Stout Beer
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Vinegar, white or cider
-Whisk together in a small bowl.

-Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.
-In lined muffin tins, put the bottom blend, and top with top blend. Swirl if you like, or allow them to crack themselves up in the oven.
-Bake at 350F for 18-22 minutes.
note: I had plenty of batter, and if I were a different person, I could have stretched this into another 6 cupcakes.


I have mentioned how I am not a food photographer, right?

*This lack of greenness never bothered me from a point of 'genuine' Irishness either: while the wearing of the green is far more traditional than green budweiser, they both usually carry about the same depth of meaning, here. Once you get into genuine Irishness, well, it's a church holiday. Then I back off again and enjoy drinking some whiskey and listening to some tunes:

07 March 2012

Comforting food.

When friends die in an avalanche, and you're heart-sick and sad and cannot believe it's true, even after weeks have gone by. When the empathetic pain for the still-living partners and wives and friends of the passed lays you low and sticks with you even stronger than the original loss. When your stomach is grumpy. When you have no energy to do anything. When you're getting punched in the oves by your own uterus (or, I suppose, you've racked your own nuts somehow). When you're hungry, but grumpy nerves and heart and stomach and oves need something soothing. Tapioca Pudding. Warm or cool, it makes me feel a little better.

You can use instant, quick, small or large tapioca pearls: whatever. If not instant, soak 2-8 hrs, depending on your patience:apathy ratio. You can also add more milk fat if you want to, substituting half and half or cream for part of the milk. If you go less than whole milk, though, the final product will be waterier. 

Tapioca Pudding
serves 4, or you 2-6 times
1/2 cup Tapioca Pearls, soaked as per your needs, or instant
3 cups Whole Milk 
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1-3 tsp Vanilla (up to you, eh?)

-Combine your tapioca, milk, salt and sugar in a pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring often to constantly. Simmer 5 minutes.
-Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Slowly temper eggs with hot milk mixture: dribble hot milk into eggs, whisking or stirring extremely well. This equalizes the temperature of the eggs with the milk, without scrambling them. 
-Put the whole deal back in the pan, and over medium heat, stirring constantly, "cook til thickened". If you under-cook it, no worries, your pudding will be a little thin. If you over-cook it, you have scrambled eggs, despite your careful tempering. Basically, if you feel like it's just about to simmer again and your spidey-sense is telling you you're about to screw it up, then it's probably perfect. It'll be a nice pudding-y consistency, too.
-Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Eat some warm. Put the rest into a bowl or bowls and put it in the fridge. -Eat as breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. 
-Love those around you.