New Orleans is home to lots and lots of awesome food, and plenty of it is stuff most tourists never get to enjoy. Take Cake Cafe, a wonderful bakery and breakfast spot in the Marigny neighborhood. When I lived in the city pre-Katrina, I hadn’t even heard of this place; it was only on a trip a few years ago that a friend who lives nearby took me there.
So I was surprised to see the place mentioned on Serious Eats, in a post about its apple-and-goat-cheese-filled king cake. This thing is pretty decadent: cream cheese filling, goat cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon, and apples—it’s like four king cakes in one!
Too bad Serious Eats didn’t score an actual recipe. So I had to come up with one myself. I started with the dough from CHOW with a few adjustments (mine’s a bit sweeter, and theirs doesn’t measure the flour by weight, plus I went with a mix of almond and vanilla extract), and then kinda winged it based on Serious Eats’ photos.
The result was a pretty huge success, if I do say so myself. The tangy cheese and tart apples combine beautifully in the filling, whose richness provides a nice counterpoint to the bready cake. (Don’t take this as a knock; king cake is supposed to be bready.) Continue reading Apple-Goat Cheese King Cake
There’s only one good thing about air travel these days, and it’s a cookie.
If you’ve flown Delta recently, you know what I mean: Biscoff. A delicious, Belgian-made, cinnamon-tinged crunchy little thing, of which I always ask the flight attendant for seconds. I honestly wasn’t sure if I enjoyed them so much just because they were the only respite from the soul-crushing experience that is flying on an airplane or if I might still like them under 35,000 feet. Content to let the mystery be a mystery, I never ordered any off the internet (which seems to be the only non-aviation-related place in America you can buy them).
But then I was walking down the peanut butter-and-cereal aisle at my local Publix and saw a familiar red logo. Biscoff Spread. Assuming this would be some horrible concoction of shortening and sugar, I turned the jar around. The first ingredient listed? Biscoff cookies.
This stuff is literally ground-up Biscoff cookies, mixed with extra sugar and oil. It’s smoother than peanut butter, and good lord is it magnificent. (There’s also a chunky version, which I haven’t tried yet.)
We had just been eating it by the spoonful when the lit-theory-class/post-modern sector of my brain said, “What if you took this cookie spread, and made it back into cookies?” And thus, Meta-Cookies. Cookies made out of cookies. Continue reading Meta-Cookies
Being as how I work for Liquor.com, I’m usually called upon to make drinks at parties.
Okay, what I mean is I force everybody to try the fancy drinks I make instead of just mixing bourbon and diet soda. But the fact remains that making drinks all night is no way to enjoy any kind of festivities.
Enter punch. People have been enjoying big bowls of boozy conviviality for almost 500 years. (Really. There’s a whole book about it—a good one, might I add.) And making one ahead of time frees you up to enjoy your own party, not to mention impresses your guests (and gets them nice and toasty).
For my Fourth of July party, I wanted something light and summery but still a little exotic.
Continue reading Toasting Independence: Dixie Pisco Punch
I went on a crazy, gluttonous weekend trip to Atlanta for my birthday last month, and I fell in love. Yeah, there were some great cocktails, and a really cool late-night Asian restaurant, and a stunning $2 banh mi (more details here), but it was one dish that’s been my obsession ever since.
The “In Jars” appetizer at Empire State South includes boiled peanut hummus. Boiled. Peanut. Hummus. Boom: Mind blown.
Continue reading Recipe Rip-Off: Empire State South’s Boiled Peanut Hummus
Our planet is running out of seafood, and it’s my fault. (It’s probably your fault, too.) There are a bunch of fish—sadly, most of humanity’s favorites—that are being overfished, global-warmed, and polluted basically out of existence.
The most serious of these is bluefin tuna, AKA toro, the kind of tuna that goes into high-end sushi all around the world. The delicious species is on the razor’s edge of extinction: There are only a few thousand left by some estimates. If you care about the planet at all, you should probably not eat any of it again.
And that’s not the only fish to steer clear of: For various reasons, Atlantic salmon, imported farmed shrimp, and freshwater eel (AKA unagi, my favorite sushi-roll ingredient) are all rated as “avoid” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide.
But it’s not all bad. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is an extremely well-managed fish, and you can eat as much of it as you’d like without worrying about the environment (your wallet, on the other hand, might take a beating). And shrimp from the US (like the Gulf of Mexico), whether it’s farmed or wild-caught, is fine as well. There are even several kinds of tuna that are safe to eat—it just depends on how and where they were caught.
The key is doing your research. Seafood Watch has a wealth of information (and even an iPhone app), which I use all the time and recommend highly. You’ll also have to ask questions at your supermarket: Where was this caught? Was it caught in a net or via longline? What kind of feed does the farm use? Yeah, it’s a pain, but the way things are going, you kinda have to.
Continue reading Miso-Broiled Mackerel and Sustainable Seafood