Spanish

Meat slippers

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Empanadas.

WHATEVER.

This is kind of a rainy Sunday afternoon activity. If you have 2 hours to kill, this is the recipe for you. Even with 2 people this recipe takes about 2 hours. Couple’s meat pies. It’s sexy. I guarantee it. Someone makes the dough, someone makes the filling, you crack open a bottle of wine, you roll out the dough and cut it into circles, someone scoops in the filling, you press it shut, your hand brushes his, you brush egg wash on his hands, you look deeply into his eyes, then the oven timer rings and breaks the mood, and before he can blink, you immediately start shoveling piping hot pastry down your gullet, in front of your date BECAUSE YOU JUST CAN’T HELP YOURSELF, YOU MONSTER. You’re still single, but well fed.*

*not a true story 

This recipe is nearly 100% improvisation all the way down to my rolling pin. I made empanadas a month ago so I can only partly recall all the ingredients. However, I heavily advise the use of  raisins, curry or ras el hanout (a North African spice blend) red pepper flakes or cayenne and caraway seeds. The goal is to have a filling that is a harmonious mix of meat, vegetables, sweet, salty and spicy. Taste as you go and you’ll figure it out.

Empanadas:

Makes a baker’s dozen (13, you dummy!)

Dough:

200g or 1 2/3 cup of flour

10 cl or 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp of water

4 tbsp of olive oil

pinch of baking powder

pinch of salt

pinch of cinnamon and cumin

In large bowl, measure and mix all the dry ingredients then add the water and oil and mix well with your hands until the dough can be formed into a ball. Let the dough ball rest at least 30 minutes to an hour, if you let the dough rest too long it becomes very elastic and difficult to roll.

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Filling:

Ground beef (I used 300g so that’s about 10 oz)

1 small sweet potato

1 large onion

3 medium carrots

3 cloves of garlic

(This is just a suggestion, you can also use chicken instead of beef. I made this with what I had on hand but peppers, peas, even celery would be a good addition.)

1/2 cup of raisins

1 tbsp of tomato paste

lil splash of soy sauce or white wine if you’re feeling saucy

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of chili flakes

1 tsp of paprika

2 tsp of curry powder or ras el hanout

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/2 tsp of four spice blend (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger)

1/2 tsp of ground ginger

2 tsp of caraway seeds

1/2 tsp of cumin

chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1/2 cup of grated cheese

1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tbsp water

Brown the meat in a large frying pan. While the meat cooks, finely chop the sweet potato, onion, carrots and garlic (to speed things along I use the food processor). Once the meat is cooked, drain some of the fat off the beef and put the meat aside in a bowl. In the same pan, one medium heat, add about 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the chopped vegetables and cook them until tender. Add the meat back into the pan, add the raisins and tomato paste and soy sauce/white wine/so kind of moisture. Next, add the salt and pepper, then add the spices. The above spices are just a suggestion, I add to taste and it’s not a big deal if you are a little heavy handed. The point is to have something that’s sweet and salty with “spice” taste. To finish, add the fresh herbs and turn off the heat.

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To assemble:

Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out the dough ball on a lightly floured surface to about an 1/6 inch thickness. Cut 5-6 in diameter circles out of the dough, I used my dumpling press as a template. Before putting my dough circles in the press, I like to roll them out just a little more so I’m sure the edges won’t bust open. Place a generous spoonful and a half of filling on one half of the dough, top with a little grated cheese, brush the edges of the circle with the egg yolk and water wash. Fold the empty half of the dough over and press the edges of the semi-circle shut. Transfer the stuffed empanadas to a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Continue filling the empanadas until you have used up the filling or the dough. If you have leftover filling, mix it with rice to make an easy dinner! To finish, brush the tops of empanadas with the egg wash and bake them for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the baked empanadas to a wire rack and let them cool before tasting.

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roll your dough out with a wine bottle because you can’t commit precious drawer space to a rolling pin

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top em off

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line em up

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brush em

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style and serve your empanadas in a very Betty Crocker cookbook from ’60s

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Italian Pasta Seafood

Seafood Linguine

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HEY Y’ALL IT’S BEEN AWHILE, LIKE A YEAR OR SOMETHING!! LET’S TALK SEAFOOD!

This dish so easy, delicious and CHEAP thanks to you, frozen seafood cocktail. I know people have misgivings about frozen fish, I don’t know who, but I know people can hate just about anything. But let’s think about it this way, it’s inexpensive,  you can make it taste good even if the shrimp are microscopic. To be brief, this pasta is perfect for spring time because it’s comforting yet light.

I made this about a month ago when the human garbage basin of the Seine (Paris) was in an EXTREME POLLUTION ALERT. What do you do when the pollution in your shit city is at an all time high? Go outside and get some fresh air! So the Sunday I was planning to make pasta, I went to all the grocery stores in search of fish stock (an integral part of this recipe) and lo and behold, not only do all the stores close at noon on Sundays (we know this), but no one had any damn fish stock.

I couldn’t find this essential ingredient but I wasn’t about to let that get me down. Because of the pollution, all public transport was free, including the Velib, the city-wide public bike rental system. So we meandered through the Bois de Boulogne (woods/park on the western edge of Paris well known for prostitution), past the Arc de Triomphe and on to the 15th arrondissement, easily the most BORING of all Paris neighborhoods. I had never given up hope about the fish stock and somewhere between the island with the mini Statue of Liberty and the new super mall on the Seine I found a Korean/Japanese grocery. Packed among the rice and noodles were packets of dried anchovy stock! Also they had a wild selection of ice creams and weird cookies (Choco Boy!). It was a Sunday miracle.

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After eating an ice cream along the Seine while watching plastic bags float by I came home and made a boatload of pasta.

Seafood Linguine:

Recipe from Gueuletons! (one of 4 cookbooks I own)

For 6 people:

1 lb of linguine

2lb of frozen seafood medley (the one with squid, mussels and shrimp)

5 oz of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, roughly chopped

some black olives

4 minced shallots

4 minced cloves of garlic

2 thyme branches

1 2/3 cup of fish stock

2/3 cup of olive oil (I think I use about 1/4 – 1/3 let’s not get crazy)

salt and pepper

Optional, but recommended: a pinch of red pepper flakes and a bit of fresh parsley

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In a small pot, add the fish stock, thyme and salt and pepper and reduce by a third. While that reduces, throw your frozen seafood in a large pan (I use a wok)  on medium low heat. At the same time, bring a pot of water to a boil for the linguine and cook them al dente. The seafood loses water while it cooks and I throw some into the broth and pour some down the drain. Meanwhile, once the stock has reduced, add most of the olive oil. In the other pan with the seafood, add remaining olive oil, minced shallots and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the shallots are translucent. Add the sundried tomatoes, olives and red pepper flakes. Remove the thyme branches from the sauce and pour it over the seafood mixture. To finish I like to add a the al dente pasta and a 1/4 cup of pasta water into the sauce and seafood and let the pasta finish cooking, absorbing a bit of the sauce. To finish, sprinkle with fresh parsley , toss the pasta and seafood sauce to mix and serve immediately.

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Duck

The Noble Meat

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In America, we don’t have much of a tendency to eat duck. I grew up eating wild duck because my dad is a hunter and I can’t say this without mentioning that last duck season he shot 75 wild ducks which now roost in his two chest freezers (because a single man needs two chest freezers to store his hunting spoils– there is a food memoir somewhere in there.) Anyhow, how often do you see a duck in the meat aisle? Not often, maybe only during the holidays and it usually comes with a baggie of “orange sauce.”

I live with a French person from the southwest, where they most notably force-feed ducks to harvest their delicious livers (foie gras). Because of this weighty heritage, duck is somewhat a staple in this household, especially the second most delicious part, the duck breast. I don’t have to tell you that foie gras is the number one most delicious but is however, rarely eaten, y’all don’t know what you’re missing. Speaking of innards, the duck heart is not bad either. It’s actually a tender muscle that has the exact same flavor as the other meat (for a quarter of the price!)

So here I am trying to convince you, like an infomercial, to give duck a chance… I don’t know where you get one (Whole Foods?) but please try a duck breast if the opportunity arrises. It’s a noble and flavorful meat, it’s the other red meat, you can eat it bloody like a fine steak. It’s nothing like a chicken breast. The other advantage is that when you cook one you can hang on to the rendered fat and use it to flavor so many other things (seriously! There is also a cookbook idea in there too…)

Magret

Pan Roasted Duck Breast:

Ingredients:

1 duck breast

salt and pepper

Score the skin-side of the duck breast in a diamond pattern by gently running the knife across the flesh.

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Start by rendering the fat out of the skin side of the meat, this means cooking the duck on medium-low heat, skin-side down for about 15 minutes. Drain off the fat (save it for later, yes I mean it) then flip the breast and cook the other side on medium heat for about 4 minutes for blue, a little longer for rare. Normally we eat duck like the French would eat a steak, that is to say, very rare. After letting the meat rest for a couple of minutes and cut into thick slices. If the temperature is not to your liking, throw it back in the pan.

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Pan Roasted Potatoes:

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp of olive oil

1 Tbsp of duck fat

1 lb of fingerling potatoes, roughly diced

salt

pepper

garlic powder

In a large pan with lid, heat the oil and duck fat in a pan at medium heat. Add the potatoes and stir to make sure they are all covered in grease. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, so the potatoes cook through. Uncover and brown the potatoes in the pan until crispy (about 15-20 minutes). Season with a generous sprinkle of garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Stir to make sure the potatoes are uniformly seasoned and serve.

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America

“I’m gonna go talk to some food about this…”

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Pulled pork burger

I know this isn’t my forum dedicated to my financial woes (True Life: I’m spending my savings on living in another country meanwhile I have a pile of student debt to pay off.) It’s my blog dedicated to being a bon vivant despite the fact that I am broke. I want to eat my woes away but it’s 91°F and there is no air conditioning and I just don’t have the courage to cook or eat (also HELLO it’s swimsuit season). So I’m gonna talk about food I would talk to about my WHITE GIRL PROBLEMS (!?)

I will confess that I have PULLED PORK FANTASIES. BARBECUE FANTASIES. PORK FANTASIES. Maybe you do too and you feel me on this. I will also confess that I wasn’t even that into pulled pork when I lived in the home of pulled pork, North Carolina. I didn’t even know how much I would regret never tasting that vinegar sauce, but I grew up eating Texas style barbecue (shout-out to BUSTER’S BARBECUE!) Anyway, barbecue types aside, I ate 3 different types of pulled pork while I was in Portland and I was hooked. Now, sweating my weave out in Paris, I need PULLED PORK.

Pulled pork is tricky though. It’s a test in patience and a test in gut feelings about spices. At first I thought I could never really make this at home because I don’t have a real oven, just this thing that’s like a step up from an Easy Bake. What’s more, it’s too hot to cook during the day unless you wanna overheat your 43 square meters of living space. Last but not least, electricity is nearly twice as expensive during the day than at night and I have an induction cooktop, so best believe it takes a pretty penny to slow-cook some meat. I was stuck, I had my heart set on saucy meat but it just wasn’t very environmentally or financially responsible for me to make it. YOU KNOW WHAT THOUGH, WHATEVER! IF BABY WANTS PULLED PORK THEN IT’S PULLED PORK BABY GETS.

I made pulled pork on the stove, overnight, occasionally waking up in a panic, smelling food. I also will admit that stewed meats can be an imprecise science. The ideal pulled pork, for me, is a equilibrium between tender meat, spice, and sweet with a little sour. There are no wrong ways to make it except all those weird recipes that added coffee or some oddball thing. Keep your coffee off my pork, thanks.

Meat for pulled pork

Pulled Pork:

Makes about 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1.25 kilos or 2.75 lbs of pork shoulder, sans bones, in large cubes

1/2 can of chipotles in adobo sauce

1/3 cup of brown sugar

2 spoonfuls of Dijon mustard

lots of salt and pepper

a heavy sprinkle of Lawry’s seasoning

a heavy sprinkle of garlic powder

splash of Worcestershire sauce

apple juice and water

Pork Meat for pulled pork

Basically all you have to do is throw your pork chunks in a big pot, throw in your spices and use about 1/2 apple juice and 1/2 water to bring the liquid to about meat-level, not covering it with liquid. Throw the lid on the pot and cook at a low heat for about 5 hours, checking it, or not checking it. Check your pork at about the 5 hour mark at least. Try to pull a chunk apart with a fork; if it pulls apart easily, it’s ready, if it doesn’t, let the pork cook for another hour+, checking it regularly. When it’s falling apart, it’s ready. Next, separate the meat from the sauce at this point, if your chipotle chilies are still intact, toss them because otherwise it’s too spicy. Let the sauce cook down a bit then let it cool. You can chill it in the fridge to get the fat to separate from the sauce, scraping the solidified fat off and tossing it in the trash (reminder: swimsuit season.) While your sauce is chilling, take a fork or two and pull that meat apart! It’s not PULLED PORK for nothin’! Serve the pork reheated and moistened with the de-fatted sauce and enjoy on a sesame seed bun with a helping of COLESLAW.

Pulled pork burger

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Italian Meat in sauce

Raw Meat Diet

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I am constantly singing the praises of raw meat. This is probably a foreign concept for most Americans, who won’t eat anything less than medium well but if you like your steaks bloody give me a “HELL YEAH!” because this post is for you. The French have their well established steak tartare, or minced beef. It’s like a well seasoned raw hamburger and is tender and delicious. They are also huge fans of carpaccio, which is an Italian preparation of paper thin slices of sirloin seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil and basil, sometimes people add parmesan but I just go for the unadulterated taste of blood. If this description makes you squeamish, the beef is “cooked ” by the acid in the lemon juice and it’s actually not bloody at all; it’s just tender slices of steak.

I realize that this isn’t a post with a recipe, I just want y’all to be aware that is the summertime, though seemingly nothing bypasses the satisfaction of plates full of grilled meats, there are other ways to enjoy your beef without heating up the kitchen. Tell your man you aren’t cooking tonight because you’re feeding him raw meat.

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America Reviews

American Colon Blast

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SAMSUNG

From misery at PDX on the phone with Delta Customer Service to the healing waters of the exotic Mt Dew Baja Blast

before my Mt Dew Colon Blast

I’m in Oregon celebrating my sister’s graduation, which is why I have not updated this blog in a while. In Portland, Dad does the cooking. I have been at his digestive mercy with all the grease from pork-based breakfast meats. Today, we had our last meal before flying out and it was scrapple. People from the non-Mid-Atlantic states surely haven’t heard of SCRAPPLE but the Wikipedia page describes it as ” traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. The mush is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then panfried before serving.” This sounds pretty rough but it’s actually delicious. After 3 slices of scrapple we made a mad dash to the airport but with the half pound of scrapple weighing me down, we missed our flight. When I am not gorging myself on offal and Taco Bell, I cook and write in this blog (I haven’t forgotten!)

Also I just want to have a word about T-Bell. Everybody loves Mexican food, and everyone loves its bastard cousin-uncle, Taco Bell. As a true Epicurean, living abroad, I had missed some Taco Bell. Everyone has been HYPING the hell out of DORITOS LOCOS TACOS. I mean, I HAD to get my clammy hands on this unprecedented collaboration. As tradition, most Taco Bell is enjoyed under intoxication so I got a lil tipsy (rap name lil tipsy) and I got my Locos Tacos. I indulged in both COOL RANCH and NACHO CHEESE. I know this is gonna piss some people off, but believe me, I am a PROUD patron of da Bell and I found those Locos Tacos as hyped up and overrated as the new Daft Punk. Yeah, I said it. I mean crunchy tacos are just not user-friendly because they crack apart, and boasting the world-renowned Doritos Dust coating the shell, I expected more PIZAZZ. So I’m disappointed and I need to birth my T-Bell baby. UGH.

Special request Cheesy Bean Burrito

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Asian Salad Seafood

Spring Rolls

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I made some spring rolls. I made the recipe up as I went along, wile still keeping the ingredients somewhat traditional. I decided to cook my shrimp with curry to add a bit of PIZAZZ because bland, cold shrimp disgust me (Hello!? Who, over the age of 45 actually enjoys shrimp cocktail besides Liz Lemon?) I also tried to get  the “salad” bit of the spring rolls a bit saucy. It didn’t work so don’t bother with that because the ingredients are slipper enough on their own. In addition, don’t have little dexterous hands to roll the damn things but I tried my best (it was also my first time making these.) I think they don’t look half bad for a white girl, also delicious.

Avocado and Curried Shrimp Spring Rolls:

Serves 2

For the shrimp:

400g cooked shrimp

1 tsp oil

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

2-3 tbsp cream

Pull the heads off and peel 400g shrimp. In a pan, on medium heat, sauté the garlic and ginger in the oil until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute and then sprinkle the curry over it and add the cream. Cook for about 1 more minute until the cream evaporates and the shrimp are coated with the garlic, ginger and curry.

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For the salad bit:

1 bunch of glass noodles

a bunch of cilantro

a bunch of mint

1-2 carrots

1/2 cucumber

Rehydrate the noodles according to package instructions then drain. Chop the carrot and cucumber into thin, little matchstick like pieces. Chop the mint and cilantro. Mix all the ingredients and set aside.

Assemblage: 

8 rice paper wrappers

8 lettuce leaves

1  sliced avocado

the shrimp

the salad

A large bowl of water

I am no expert, I approached this cumbersome task by rehydrating the rice paper wrappers one-at-a-time for about 5 seconds in a large bowl of water. It’s best to use a bowl that is slightly larger than the circumference of the wrapper and not let the wrapper soak for more than 5 seconds. Next, place the wrapper on a plate and arrange the salad, the lettuce leaf and the avocado, all topped with 6-7 shrimp on the wrapper. Wrap the filling like a burrito. Struggle because the wrapper is really sticky and it’s like struggling with a roll of plastic wrap. Scream a bit because the fillings keep slipping around. Regret not watching a YouTube tutorial. Wrap the rest, which will be equally ugly as the first. Serve with sauce, I used a mango chili sauce that I bought at the store or serve with soy sauce, fish sauce and lime. Eat 3 and feel stuffed even though it was a bunch of salad with a few shrimps.

In hindsight, it might be best to arrange the shrimp, top with avocado then wrap the filling in the lettuce leaf to reduce slippage or just watch a YouTube tutorial.

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Meat in sauce

Powdered Dinner

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Sometimes I don’t want to post a real recipe. Sometimes I don’t want to make a marinade. Sometimes powdered marinades, powdered soups, Pasta-Roni are tasty. There is no shame in the occasional powdered food and I don’t need to sign off on it and give you the thumbs up. Go on with your fake food! I’m trying to say that’s it’s a viable option when you are lazy. So, on an action-packed Sunday of loafing around, I put some mystery-cuts of beef steaks in a Sun-Bird® powdered teriyaki marinade and let it loaf around in the fridge for a good five hours. I fried up my bloody teriyaki steaks, heated my marinade and tossed some Chinese egg noodles in them and wilted some baby bok choy. This succulent dinner sponsored by Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade, Cocktail Time and Ruby and Brock’s Care Package.

 

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Dessert

Tartelaides

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Those little pie tins looked so cute (and cheap) in the store that I had to buy them. I was already seeing strawberry, apricot tartlets, cheese quiches and all the delicious things you usually cook in a regular size, but which sound so much cuter in smaller tins. I fell victim and I bought the impractical molds without even a hint of shame. After all, you can bake everything out of those things. NOT.

Anyway, since the weekend was hot and sunny, I decided to make strawberry tartlets. Those are never awesome but the taste of strawberry is one of the signs of the sun coming back (along with the taste of beer by the way). A strawberry tartlet is rather easy: a baked short pastry, covered in French pastry cream, topped with strawberries.

Step 1: The short pastry or pâte brisée

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt

1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 – 120 ml) ice water

Combine the dry ingredients then add the butter, forming a crumbly mixture. Add the water slowly until the dough just begins to come together without being wet or sticky. (this is very easy to do in the food processor). After, press the dough into a ball and put it in the fridge and chill it for 1 hour. Roll the chilled dough out with a rolling pin (or wine bottle) and put it in the buttered pie tins. Cover the dough with parchment paper and rice so it can keep its form while cooking and and bake for 20 min at 200°C. After that step, I obtained these empty shells.

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Second step was the French pastry cream. This cream is used by tons of French deserts and, still, is not that great in big quantities. It tastes good, no doubt, but when used too wildly, its texture can be disturbing and gross. Who never had a French pastry cream filled chou, way too big to be delicate? I dare you to close your eyes and while biting the beast, think of a big juicy worm. Realistic, uh? Anyway, it is fine when used wisely and not in industrial quantities.

Step 2: Pasty cream

The goal is to never stop stirring.

Heat 0,25L of milk with an open vanilla pod till it boils.

In another pot, stir an egg with 40g of sugar, and 32g of flour.

Then, pour the hot milk and vanilla in the pot of sugar, egg and flour, while stirring constantly.

Cook on low heat, still stirring constantly until the boiling point. At that point, the cream must be pretty thick. Take it away from the heat, and save it in the fridge, till it cools down.

When the cream is cold, use it to fill the shells, and put the strawberries in half or quarters on top. You can give them a shiny aspect by by brushing the strawberries with melted strawberry jam with a little bit of water.

It results some beautiful tartlets, still not awesome, but very good and delicate, with a perfect amount of fluffy vanilla cream for a light desert.

Well, I have now to find other recipes I can make with those stupid pie tins, dammit.

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Bread

BREAD, BYE

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DON’T MAKE HOMEMADE BREAD! IT’S NOT WORTH IT! I just burned my sweet lil thumb trying to handle the dang unwieldy enamel pot for the no-knead bread. I am typing this darned post with one hand because Pierre has forced me to keep my ol thumb submerged in cold water . . . . I hope when I pull it out it’s a pickle.

Additionally, my mom keeps heckling me in comments because my bread is as pale as a Swedish baby. However, this is a personal choice. I don’t like burnt bread, thats what a toaster is for.

In any case, bread is too dangerous and time consuming to make at home. All I wanted was fresh bread for tomorrow’s breakfast but all I got was this burnt-ass thumb.

Final note: if you do attempt that stupid bread, cumbersome cookware and all, don’t skimp on salt. I saw the recipe and I said to myself, “Why all that salt?” Why? Bread tastes like caca with no salt. Fact.

CONCLUSION: OVER IT!

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