While I have a few resolutions (complete another Whole30 and to learn more about my Nikon camera), most of my hopes for the new year involve cooking. I created a new page on this blog to track my food-complishments over the next 12 months, but here’s a quick run-down:
You should all know me well enough by now that I don’t need to explain why I spent a few days creating a recipe for a hot buttered rum Jello shot. In posts past I’ve cemented my love for jiggly alcohol, so instead we can move on to the good stuff.
Hot buttered rum always makes me think of my life-long best friend Nikki Sea. Growing up, her family would make a big batch every December to serve at their annual Christmas boat parade party. There was always some left over which, post-party, would find itself in a most unorthodox place — as part of a peanut butter sandwich.
I should mention, lest you think poorly of us, that the sandwiches were booze free. It was simply the base for the hot buttered rum, made from blending melted vanilla ice cream with sugar, vanilla and butter. Trust me, peanut butter and jelly didn’t stand a chance, that sandwich was like crack.
The third installment of “A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving”
Over the course of this blog, I think we’ve established that my husband and I are practically professional eaters. There was the full lobe of foie gras downed in a single seating at Au Pied de Cochon and the time that we pre-gamed a 10-course dinner at an elegant Italian restaurant with back-to-back meals at two other restaurants…before heading to a serious pork-athon the next day.
Then there was our three-day road trip to Napa. We knew we needed to make the most of our time since we had no idea when we’d ever be back — this is always our excuse for gorging ourselves — so we planned to get in as many meals as our stomachs would allow.
We left Portland at 5 am on a Friday morning on a mission to drive nearly non-stop to San Francisco. I say nearly because we made a pit stop in Redding for my very first In-N-Out burger. Hours later, we suffered through an excruciatingly good meal at Incanto, followed by a two-course brunch at SPQR the following morning.
From there we went to Yountville where we pillaged the paté case at the Fatted Calf, a lovely charcuterie shop, before venturing on to our hours-long dinner at the French Laundry. The very next morning we hit up Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc for brunch, stopped at the Bouchon bakery for sweet treats and then started our 10-hour drive back home.
Happiness should be the one thing always present during the holiday season — after all how times do you hear the word ‘joy’ uttered in December?
Unfortunately, it’s not always effortless to be happy this time of year — there’s so much to do, so much stress and so many expectations that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. My job is particularly crazy in the winter. If people seem neurotic about their Thanksgiving dinner, imagine being responsible for the meat for hundreds of Christmas Eve and New Years Eve dinners. Some of the chefs I know could out-diva Mariah Carey and her requests for rooms full of white kittens.
So this year my co-workers and I came up with a brilliant idea — a happiness advent calendar. Each day one participant brings a small gift to the other 14 participants. It’s been awesome. I’ve come into work every morning to find treats on my desk, amongst them a peppermint Rice Krispie treat, a seasonal beer and a camel turd. There was a platter of apple slices with a jar of caramel sauce, a homemade lollipop and even a taco bar.
Let me tell you — it’s a mood lifter that I desperately needed this year, as my grandmother, one of the people I was closest to my whole life, passed away on Dec. 3rd, just nine days before her 96th birthday.
The first installment of “A Very Thomas Keller Thanksgiving”
My husband and I like to make lists.
But instead of “things to do” or “places to go,” most of our lists revolve around food that we’ve already eaten. One list is the fullest we’ve ever been. For me, hands down, the winner is after our meal at the (now defunct) Incanto in San Francisco. I was so stuffed I almost cried when the kitchen sent us a complimentary dessert and champagne at the end of the meal. It felt more like a punishment than a gift.
We also talk about the longest meals we’ve had (the Herb Farm is definitely up there – so much food!) and, of course, the best things we have eaten. This list is constantly changing but for both of us the ultimate winner is the same — the Oysters & Pearls from our dinner at the French Laundry back in 2011.
This is one of Chef Thomas Keller’s most iconic dishes. The base is a custard made with small pearl tapioca, cream and oyster trimmings. The mixture is baked in individual ramekins and then topped with a gently poached fresh oyster, a silky butter sauce, a scoopful of caviar and a dusting of chives.
While some people get excited every fall for the debut of the heralded Pumpkin Spice Latte, I am the girl patiently waiting for the inevitable return of the peppermint mocha. While I know it’s available year-round, for me this minty treat is best savored slowly while strolling down a street in the winter, checking out Christmas lights and window shopping.
Most of the year I drink straight-up black coffee so when December rolls around my first sip of the peppermint mocha is pure chocolatey, sugary bliss. This year I decided to take that deliciousness and turn it into a Jello shot.
Because, well, why not?
I’ll admit I was a little concerned about the basic idea of gelatinous chocolate, or gelatinous coffee for that matter. Usually when I think Jello, I think fruit so this was a bit of a stretch for me.
After doing some Google researched, I made my first batch using coffee, hot cocoa mix, a blend of alcohol and a touch of coffee syrup (have you tried this stuff? It’s like crack!).